Down Arts Centre reopens after £1.4m refurbishment
Category: Northern Ireland
Published: 16th Jun 2012 11:23:55
One of Northern Ireland's Arts Centres has reopened after a £1.4m refurbishment.
The Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick was shut for just over a year while much needed repair work was carried out.
The project has been funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Down District Council.
The centre, on Irish Street, first opened in 1989.
The Downpatrick band Ash - which is celebrating 20 years in the music business - played one of their first ever gigs on the premises while their were still at school.
The band's lead singer, Tim Wheeler, has fond memories of the building.
"We performed a lot of early shows at the Down Arts Centre and this weekend we are celebrating our twentieth anniversary but it is quite strange the timing that this centre is having a rebirth at this moment as well.
"I used to come down and have my lunch here every day during school and yes it is a beautiful building.
"I think the last time we played here was 2004 and I would actually look forward to playing here again," he said.
Rachel Kennedy from the Arts Centre explained that the building was originally used as a market house in the 1660s.
"The main hall was used for dances in more recent years and Gracie Fields performed at the Arts Centre in World War Two," she said.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland contributed more than £600,000 towards the renovation project which also included a new extension to the building.
The Chief Executive of the Arts Council, Rosin McDonough, said: "As principal funder of the capital project at the Down Arts Centre, the Arts Council is thrilled to see the new extension and refurbishment now complete.
"The £600,510 invested by the Arts Council is part of our commitment to improve the arts infrastructure here and we're proud of the fact that every person in Northern Ireland is now within 20 miles of a dedicated arts facility, such as Down Arts Centre.
"With an exciting programme planned for the year ahead, people in the surrounding communities will benefit from the opportunities available to participate in and enjoy the arts at the Down Arts Centre.
"It's also positive news for the local economy which will benefit from the enhanced cultural tourism offering and all that it brings," Ms McDonough added.
The MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie said she was glad to see the building "which has long been rooted in this society" restored.
"Whether you were from a local artists collective or band scene, so many people have go so much enjoyment from this centre over the past 20 years, Ms Ritchie said.
"Long may its good work continue," she added.
The Chairman of Down District Council, Dermot Curran, thanked all those who had funded and supported the renovation project.
"Down Arts Centre offers a busy programme of live theatre and music performances, exhibitions, workshops and classes across a wide range of art forms.
"In this 2012 year of celebration, I would encourage everyone to visit the Arts Centre to enjoy the cultural events which are on offer, Mr Curran said.
Those behind the project hope it will continue to inspire other artists, no matter what their field, in the future.
At 22:39:30 in Sport
At 22:39:22 in Business
At 22:33:12 in Entertainment
At 22:29:03 in BusinessTroubled online game-maker Zynga reported a first-quarter loss of $61m (£36m).
At 22:26:07 in SportGreat Britain's hopes of World Championship promotion were ended by a 2-1 defeat to Lithuania in Vilnius.
At 22:17:12 in EnglandA robot has been used in a children's ward to allow patients to communicate with each other and with staff.
At 22:03:05 in SportNorthern Ireland's Mark Allen progressed to the second round of the World Championship thanks to a comfortable 10-4 win over Michael Holt.
At 21:43:34 in BusinessSocial networking giant Facebook reported profits of $642m (£383m) during the first quarter of 2014, beating analyst expectations.
At 21:25:17 in Northern IrelandThe Irish education minister has proposed a radical shake-up of the further education sector.
At 21:24:30 in SportAndy Murray says he has whittled down his list of potential new coaches to "seven or eight" candidates.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Down Arts Centre reopens after £1.4m refurbishment [Online] (Updated 16th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1435021/Down-Arts-Centre-reopens-after-1-4m-refurbishment [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
The Irish education minister has proposed a radical shake-up of the further education sector.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com