New lease of life for arts venue after receiving huge grant
An inclusive community space for arts and culture in North Tyneside will be given a new lease of life thanks to a grant for £48,000.
The Exchange, on Howard Street in North Shields, has welcomed hundreds of artists, singers, musicians, theatre companies and other performers through its doors since it opened three years ago.
Now the grade II-listed building, run by The Exchange charity, is set for a makeover after it was picked to receive funding by the Coastal Revival Fund.
Areas of the former Methodist church – built in 1856 – that will benefit include the main auditorium, box office, dressing rooms and café kitchen.
The Exchange’s artistic director Karen Knox said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this money, it is going to make such a difference to what we are able to do here.
“We have had so many fantastic, talented acts through our doors, and the changes we will make to our facilities will ensure we are able to continue attracting top quality performers, as well as grass roots theatre and community groups.
“We see ourselves as a cultural centre for North Tyneside and we are confident we will be able to continue bringing the Arts to all for a long time to come.
“We want to say a huge thank you to the Coastal Communities Fund, as well North Tyneside Council, North Shields Fish Quays Coastal Community Team and Cornerstone Fundraising Ltd for their vital support of our application.”
The building, which has a café-bar, 300-seater auditorium and exhibition space, was opened by The Exchange charity on New Year’ Day 2016.
It has since welcomed thousands of visitors, who have enjoyed a range of exhibitions, entertainment acts, grass-roots theatre, festivals and fundraisers.
Big names through the door have included the stars of 2018’s Sunday For Sammy, who rehearsed in the auditorium, as well as Joe McElderry and Robson Green.
The next few months will see famous faces including Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley, aka Lost Voice Guy, and star of ‘I, Daniel Blake’ Dave Johns take to the stage.
Changes to the building will be made as part of The Exchange’s ‘21st Century Project’ and will include an updated ticketing system, new seats and lighting for the auditorium, redecoration of the dressing rooms and box office and refitting of the café’s kitchen.
Work is due to begin by April, with work to continue during 2019.
The Exchange is one of 23 projects across the country to receive funding from the Coastal Community Fund.
Northern Powerhouse and Coastal Communities Minister Jake Berry MP, said: “I’m proud to support these 23 magnificent projects from Ryde to Runcorn with investment from the Government’s Coastal Revival Fund.
“Putting heritage at the heart of our coastal towns is an important way of attracting visitors and boosting our local economies.
“We’re determined to save these historic landmarks for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations while delivering on our promise to invest over a quarter of a billion pounds into the Great British Coast by 2020.”
For more information on The Exchange, including forthcoming acts and volunteering opportunities, head to http://www.attheexchange.info or check them out on Facebook and Twitter at @attheexchange.
To get in contact with The Exchange, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 0191 258 4111.
**Please contact Jake Rusby on 07968788047 for more information and please credit photos to RusbyMedia**