New £900,000 cultural arts centre set for Wakefield

An artist's impression of the new centre.
An artist's impression of the new centre.

A cultural arts centre is set to be built in Wakefield city centre after council chiefs agreed to provide £300,000 for the Theatre Royal project.

A derelict building next to the theatre on Westgate will be turned into a ‘Centre for Creativity’ under the scheme, which will cost £900,000 in total.

The centre will include rehearsal studios, a learning centre and conference facilities.

On Tuesday Wakefield Council’s cabinet agreed a one-off contribution of £200,000, on top of £100,000 already committed under a grant scheme.

Katie Town, executive director of Theatre Royal Wakefield, said: “We’re delighted that Wakefield Council has demonstrated such confidence in the Theatre with this funding announcement, which will enable us to continue to serve the people of Wakefield in new and exciting ways. “The new Centre for Creativity aims to break down barriers of access to the arts and give a boost to the city’s tourism.”

The Theatre Royal had already raised £604,000 for the project.

Work on the centre was expected to start in May and it could be completed by the end of the year.

Les Shaw, the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said “Theatre Royal Wakefield plays an important role in attracting visitors to the city, and supports our regeneration plans for the district.

“Whist the council is faced with making savings of £15.4m in 2017-18, we recognise the importance of continuing to invest to help the district to thrive.

This one-off grant will help to support the theatre’s goal for longer-term financial stability.”

A report to the cabinet meeting said: “The Theatre Royal Wakefield are planning to transform a derelict gap site, adjacent to the existing 1894 grade II* listed Theatre into a flexible cultural facility with an emphasis on production and new development, particularly for self-employed artists and new companies/ensembles.

“The Centre for Creativity will contribute towards increasing and diversifying the Theatre’s revenue income through increased number of performances, providing conference and hospitality services and through introduction of a new bar and café.

“The theatre expects the new building to make a significant contribution towards the long term financial sustainability.”