Phoenix has revealed detailed architectural designs for Phoenix 2020 – the expansion of its existing venue – which will see the Leicester charity add two further cinema screens, a new art gallery, an expanded Café Bar and a green roof terrace by 2020.
The £7 million development, initially announced in December 2017, will see elements of the existing venue’s interior reconfigured and a two storey 1,200 square metre extension added to its eastern side.
Clad with a modern façade, the extension will feature a first floor ‘green’ roof terrace and event space, with lift and stair access, providing a stunning outdoor space for dining, and cinema and art events.
On the ground floor, two new 70-seater cinema screens will complement Phoenix’s existing 220 and 120-seater auditoria, enabling a wider range of films to be screened more often.
A new digital art gallery – double the size of the current space – will be prominently positioned in the new extension enabling Phoenix to offer a richer and more ambitious art programme.
The current Café Bar will be extended to provide almost double the existing seating capacity, with new dining areas and a choice of seating. The kitchen area will also be greatly expanded to cater for increased capacity.
Elsewhere in the building existing spaces will be remodelled and refurbished, providing more space for education, filmmaking and creative learning.
The new extension and refurbishments are designed to provide a modern and relaxed environment which complements the existing Phoenix design. Large glass windows will be integrated into the south side of the building to maximise visibility and provide a visual connection between inside and out.
“We are delighted to have finalised the designs for Phoenix 2020,” said John Rance, CEO of Phoenix. “With input from a wide variety of people and partner organisations, we are confident the building design will enable us to achieve our aims to deliver a wider cultural programme to more people in and around Leicester, and in doing so put the charity on the very best financial footing for the future.”
The new plans have been created by architects Arcadis, working with Phoenix, and with input from consultations with a wide range of people and organisations – including stakeholders and funders, customers, staff, local residents and businesses, programme partners and disability groups.
The architectural plans are currently at Stage 3 of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Works model. The plans have been submitted to Leicester City Council for formal planning permission.
Leicester City Council announced on 23 October 2018 that it will commit £1 million in funding towards Phoenix 2020. The council has also announced that it will grant a long-term lease to Phoenix for part of the adjacent car park to enable the extension to go ahead.
In July 2017, Phoenix was offered £4 million by Arts Council England, conditional upon a successful second stage application, which Phoenix is submitting this month. Phoenix was one of just 11 organisations offered this funding – and the only one in the East Midlands.
The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) has provided £100,000 to support the development work needed for the second stage application, in order to secure economic benefit for the region.
Arts Council also awarded Phoenix £177,000 funding to support development of the application. British Film Institute (BFI) have contributed funds to support this work, and the development is supported by De Montfort University, a key partner and founding funder of the organisation.
Phoenix is currently working to secure the remaining funding required and expects to move forward with the plans in March 2019; to start construction in late 2019; and finish in late 2020.
Since moving to Leicester’s Cultural Quarter almost nine years ago, Phoenix has more than doubled its audience numbers to around 220,000 visits a year. By increasing capacity, the proposed developments are expected to grow visitor numbers further – doubling the number of arts attenders to 111,000 and increasing cinema sales by 32,000 annually.
The development will also generate valuable additional income to improve the charity’s financial resilience to deliver upon its charitable aims for the future.