A new £2.4 million creative hub for artists is to be built in Coventry, providing the first purpose-built and collaborative art production facility in the city which will support UK City of Culture 2021.
The Daimler Powerhouse, once part of the world-famous car factory located on the edge of the city centre in Radford, is to be transformed into a major centre to provide dedicated spaces for artists and resident creative companies.
It will be focused primarily on outdoor arts and play an integral part in supporting UK City of Culture 2021 as a production centre for major performance works.
The project is being led by Imagineer Productions, a creative company specialising in cultural events including the award-winning Arts Council England projects Godiva Awakes (2010-14) and Bridge (2018-20), which is based on the site at Sandy Lane Business Park.
The redevelopment is being funded with £1.9 million from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund which is resourced from Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal.
The Wigley Group, which owns Sandy Lane Business Park, is contributing an additional £350,000 to enable the project to proceed as well as agreeing a highly-discounted 20-year lease on Daimler Powerhouse, as well as a neighbouring building, as part of the redevelopment. Additional funding has been raised from The Garfield Weston Foundation and The May 29th 1961 Charitable Trust.
Work is due to start for planned completion in March 2021 and will be carried out by The Wigley Group’s construction arm, Wigley Building and Development.
The Daimler Powerhouse project will complement The Wigley Group’s own plans to transform neighbouring Sandy Lane Industrial Estate into Daimler Wharf, a vibrant new neighbourhood for living and work, culture and leisure.
James Davies, managing director of The Wigley Group, said: “The Wigley Group is a proud supporter of UK City of Culture 2021 that is why we are contributing so heavily to allow this exciting development – which will be of great cultural benefit to Coventry – to happen.
“Imagineer have been based at our Sandy Lane Business Park for many years and we have been working with them on the plans for Daimler Powerhouse for a considerable time.
“We are delighted that the funding, leasing and development agreements have been secured and would like to thank all parties involved. We now look forward to starting work on site to create a cultural legacy.”
The centre will provide a dedicated base for Imagineer and a new home for six independent arts organisations, and enable them to create and work in game-changing, purpose-built facilities dedicated to community engagement and quality production.
Jane Hytch, chief executive of Imagineer, said: “We have had a dream to create dedicated spaces for artists to work for over 10 years and finally we are delighted that the transformation of this exceptional and important building will happen as part of City of Culture 2021.
“We would like to thank all our funders for helping us to make this happen. Daimler was once a centre of engineering excellence – the building will once again become a centre of creative excellence and innovation for outdoor and site – specific work, training and education.”
Nick Abell, interim chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: “We are delighted to have secured Growth Deal funding to help deliver this transformational project.
“Daimler Powerhouse will be a tremendous addition to Coventry’s cultural assets and particularly during UK City of Culture 2021 which will showcase the city to the world and boost the economy across our region.”
Leader of Coventry City Council Cllr George Duggins said: “In the midst of everything that is going on I’m delighted to see progress on this project. The city, and the country, needs something positive and creating a dedicated production hub for arts and artistic organisations in the city is positive news culturally and economically.”