An investment of £1.6m by the Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative in a major regeneration project at the New Gate Arts and Cultural Centre in Derry~Londonderry will help create a new shared space and bring people together.

Work has begun on a significant extension to the existing New Gate Arts and Cultural Centre in the Fountain which will provide a safe and inclusive space for locals and visitors to share and participate in a range of theatre, music and dance events.

Junior Minister Gary Middleton, who visited the site today to cut the first sod for this new state-of-the-art shared performance space in the heart of the city, said: “This new space will not only support a wide variety of arts and cultural activities, it will significantly rejuvenate this area, injecting new life and bringing with it great opportunity.

“The North West Cultural Partnership have successfully used arts and creativity as a catalyst for change over the years, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together in shared experiences.

“This investment of £1.6million by the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, in a new build multi-use performance space, will expand their ability and opportunity to facilitate more activities, training and performance, while connecting with wider audiences.”

Junior Minister Declan Kearney said: “I am delighted that work is under way on this transformative project.

“Through the Urban Villages Initiative we are committed to investing in the development of thriving communities in areas of highest deprivation and historical social tension.

“And I have no doubt that this new multi-use space will bring considerable benefits for The Fountain and the wider city. It will improve the physical environment of the area and give people from different backgrounds and traditions the opportunity to come together to enjoy artistic and cultural activities, helping to build connections across cultures and develop positive community identities for all.”]

Junior Minister Gary Middleton, Kyle Thompson, New Gate Arts and Cultural Centre, and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke

The development will include a new welcome and reception area, a 140-seater flexible performance space, a dance studio and cafe. The plans also include an exhibition space, a rooftop break-out space and art room, as well as office and meeting space; all of which will be fully accessible.

Kyle Thompson, Project Capital Co-ordinator, commented: “The investment from the Urban Villages Initiative will transform the area; improving the physical environment, creating additional facilities and helping us develop a thriving, welcoming community.

“New Gate Arts & Culture Centre will act as the gateway to The Fountain, it will promote its rich cultural heritage, nurture and develop our community’s artistic talents and enable people to engage with, understand and appreciate the significant contribution that this community has made to the city and region. We are delighted that the contractors have been appointed and that construction has started.”

The project is designed to not only enhance the local environment and improve community relations and engagement, but to inject life and vibrancy into The Fountain area of the city, restoring pride and confidence among those living and working in this area of the city.

Speaking during a site visit today, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke said it marked a very exciting milestone for everyone involved in the project, including delivery partners Derry City and Strabane District Council.

He said: “It’s a huge honour for me as Mayor to be here onsite and see at first hand work starting on this hugely significant and exciting community arts and cultural facility that will transform not only the Fountain area, but the entire city and North West region.

“This community arts and cultural centre will not only create a safe and inclusive space for artists, performers and the community to enjoy but it will act as a real catalyst for change in bringing people together from across the city and district to enjoy shared experiences and further enhance good relations among our communities.”

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