Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre, in Spain Lane, has received the sum through Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme.
The scheme aims to help cultural organisations across the country transform their buildings and equipment so they can operate safely post-pandemic, improve access, take advantage of technological opportunities, and reduce their environmental impact.
In all, £22.7 million is being awarded to 66 such causes in 2021-22 and 2022-23.A spokesman for Blackfriars said: “This award will allow us to improve our lighting and sound equipment, delivery higher quality productions for audiences, as well as improving access to our productions by providing a new hearing loop and screens for surtitles. By moving our equipment to LED, it will greatly reduce our environmental impact.”
Blackfriars opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1966. It followed a five-year fundraising drive to convert a decaying, former Dominican Friary into ‘a Little Theatre for Boston’ (as it was billed at the time of the appeal’s launch).
In 2008, though, it faced permanent closure until a group of community members successfully campaigned to take over its operation.
Robert Barclay, chairman of Blackfriars Arts Centre said: “This award is a real game changer for us. Our equipment is relatively old and has been in need of replacement for some time. With this grant we will be able to offer a better class of production for our local community organisations and audiences alike. It will also help improve access to performances for more of our local community to enjoy than ever before. Our environmental impact will be reduced, as will our overheads!’
Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England said: “World class creativity and culture needs a resilient and sustainable infrastructure to allow it to flourish.
“With these investments in the buildings, equipment, and digital systems of cultural organisations across England, we are helping to secure the future of that infrastructure, and making sure that people from every part of the country can continue enjoying all the benefits it delivers for years to come.”