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New creative consortium to work with Council on Worcester’s new arts venue

The Scala building in Worcester

A new consortium of arts and creative organisations has been formed to work with Worcester City Council on the delivery and management of a new arts venue in the city centre.

Based in the Scala and Corn Exchange buildings in Angel Street, the new venue will be funded by part of the £17.9 million award to the City Council from the Government's Future High Streets Fund.

The newly-formed Creative Consortium of leading local arts and creative organisations is set to help the Council develop new design and operating proposals for the new venue.

The Creative Consortium has been formed by Severn Arts; Dancefest; Mobilise Arts, a Worcestershire-based inclusive arts organisation; Collar & Tie (C&T), applied theatre practitioners, technologists and researchers based on Deansway; co-working facility The Kiln; and community cinemas operator Vestan.

Paul Sutton, Chair of the Creative Consortium, said: "We are committed to working together to support Worcester City Council in bringing this exciting project to fruition.

"We are delighted that Worcester has been awarded this money and we are determined to see it well-invested to create a thriving arts centre for all, no matter your age or ability, improving the cultural offering for the region, as well as bonding communities, boosting tourism, and buoying the area's economy."

The establishment of the Creative Consortium is confirmed in a report to be considered by the Council's Policy and Resources Committee on 21 November.

The report also includes the results of a review of the arts venue project, setting out recommendations for how the scheme should be delivered.

Councillor Lynn Denham, Committee Vice-Chair and Joint Leader of the Council, said: "Reviewing the Scala project has been a very useful exercise. We have identified lessons for the Council and for Government. I hope these will help us to move forward and deliver an excellent new arts venue for the people of Worcester.

"It is very exciting to see the formation of the new Creative Consortium. Together these arts professionals will be working with the Council to create a facility that will really meet the needs of Worcester's communities."

The committee has previously agreed to develop new plans to create a flexible arts venue in the two Grade II listed city centre buildings, after earlier proposals for a 500-seater facility had to be revised because of steeply rising construction costs.

The report to next week's committee outlines the results of a project review launched in the wake of that decision, setting out a variety of recommendations for how the project should now be taken forward.

These include revising the objectives for the project to specify that the new arts venue should have a flexible use; more engagement with local stakeholders; closer monitoring of the potential project risks; and a formal sign-off process for the new venue designs that are now being developed.

The Committee will also be asked to authorise the City Council's Managing Director to write to the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities – which administers the Future High Streets Fund – to inform them of the results of the project review and highlight concerns over the way that Government funding is provided for capital projects. 

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