Cabinet members met last night (Wed) to discuss the proposals and gave the go-ahead to building the Cultural Quarter on the Kimmerfields regeneration site, located between the railway station and opposite the former Debenhams building on Fleming Way.
The Council has spent the past year working closely with key partners in Swindon’s arts, cultural and business sectors, meticulously preparing plans to create a new Cultural Quarter to help revitalise the town centre and boost the town’s cultural offer.
The plans for the Cultural Quarter are expected to come to fruition over the next 10 years and include, among other things, a new theatre, dance centre, digital media and arts hub and new facilities to display Swindon’s nationally-significant art collection.
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Culture and Heritage, said: “I am delighted that so many people have agreed that this positive vision is a credible, realistic and deliverable approach for improving Swindon town centre over the next 10 years.
“My Cabinet colleagues and I are determined to see a new Wyvern Theatre built by 2030 with a 1,200 capacity – double the number of seats today – so our town can attract the big national and regional shows and performers. We also support the creation of a wider Cultural Quarter that includes a new museum, art gallery, dance centre and digital studio.
“It won't be the Council paying for the estimated £80m cost, so the hard work now begins. Over the next six months the Council will work closely with partners in the arts sector, and funding bodies like the Arts Council, to prepare the full financial business case and an investment prospectus to make this vision one step closer to reality.”
Mark Powell, Artistic Director at Swindon’s Prime Theatre, said: “Too often Swindon’s young people are disadvantaged by lack of experience or aspiration. Every week in Swindon schools, I see how art awakens imagination, education and empowerment.
“The town is making a bold commitment to future generations with this plan. Swindon won’t just be a place to live and work, but a place to dream and achieve as well.”
The Cultural Quarter plans enjoy cross-party support on the Council.
The proposals are very much in their infancy and residents should not expect to see any building work on site for a while yet. But the Council believes in being bold and brave in its ambitions for Swindon, and to spearhead town centre regeneration.