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Seeda Gives 2.95 Million to Develop Two Canterbury Arts Centres

5 March 2008

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is to contribute £2.95 million to two major cultural projects in Canterbury, Kent. The Agency will be contributing £2 million to acquire a property next door to the existing Marlowe Theatre in order to create a larger venue and improve access, and £975,000 towards the restoration and transformation of The Canterbury Beaney into a cultural and heritage hub. Partners on the Marlowe Theatre project include Canterbury City Council and Kent County Council, and on the Canterbury Beaney project Canterbury City Council, Kent County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The redevelopment of the existing Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury is an ambitious project to create a flagship venue. The theatre will be a high-profile, year-round facility with new programmes and events designed to attract local, national and international visitors. It will be a centre of excellence, providing significant training opportunities and adding to the city’s reputation as a centre of creativity, as well as transforming the area and creating a riverside park. The New Marlowe Theatre Development Trust has been set up with a view to raising the remaining £6 million in private donations toward the overall cost. HRH The Earl of Wessex is Royal Patron of the campaign, while other patrons include the Lord Lieutenant of Kent Allan Willett, CBE, Sir Robert Worcester and Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom, who was brought up in Canterbury.

SEEDA’s Executive Director for Sustainable Prosperity, Oona Muirhead, said:

"The Marlowe Theatre is already very successful, contributing some £13 million to the local economy. The plans for an inspirational new building and café-culture experience, together with the community facilities at the Beaney, will transform that part of the city centre into a vibrant cultural quarter. Together, the projects will bring an additional £35 million income per annum into Canterbury and East Kent."

At the Canterbury Beaney there are plans for a new extension to the rear of the existing building to provide improved access, more space and increased capacity for interactive new displays and exhibitions, including unique collections currently hidden from public display.

The Leader of Canterbury City Council, Cllr John Gilbey, said: "SEEDA’s confidence in the city council’s vision is demonstrated through these grants, giving a clear message about the validity of these two key projects in the cultural regeneration of Canterbury and East Kent. This is an important piece of the jigsaw, completing the public sector funding package for the projects."

 

 

 

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