Funding joy for centre

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THE latest phase in the creation of an arts centre in the heart of Stowmarket has been secured with the announcement this week of a £500,000 award.

This means that the third and final stage of restoring the former Corn Exchange in Church Walk can go ahead.

The money has been awarded by Biffa and means that in May work will start on creating a state of the art lighting and sound system, box office, mezzanine level incoluding a café/bar, sprung flooring, staging and upgraded facilities.

The work, which will run until November, will also include solar panels, triple glazing, additional insulation and a heat source air pump.

John Spitzer, director of the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, said: “This is brilliant. We are very pleased to be awarded this grant from Biffa and appreciate the assistance and contributions of our other funders that has enabled us to secure this funding.

“November 2012 will be here before we know it and we are very excited to see the facility come back to lfe.”

The centre, whose patron is Sheila Ravenscroft, widow of John Peel, was the only organisation to be granted a Flagship Project award in the UK this year and then had to secure an additional £70,000 to match fund that amount.

This was achieved through support from Mid Suffolk District Council, Mid Suffolk Local Strategic Partnership, The Alfred Williams Trust, county councillors and fund-raising events.

A new programme of events will run from December until May 2012 which will be launched shortly and will include music, spoken word, theatre, family events and comedy.

There will also be fund-raising activities run by the centre during the Phase 3 build which will be held at various venues in and around the town.

Mr Spitzer said: “It is vital to the centre that our fund-raising efforts continue to ensure all elements of Phase 3 are included and to make the centre as successful as it should be.”

The project is also supported by the town council, Suffolk County Council and a range of other businesses and organisations.