Foster and O’Neill announce £1.7million investment for new arts and culture centre in the Fountain

Date published: 05 November 2020

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have announced an investment of £1.7million in a new arts and cultural project in the Derry-Londonderry Urban Village area.

New arts and culture centre in the Fountain - CGI for illustration purposes only
New arts and culture centre in the Fountain - CGI for illustration purposes only

The Ministers have revealed plans from the Executive’s Urban Villages initiative to transform the existing New Gate Arts & Culture Centre in the Fountain estate and the adjacent vacant site, into a state-of-the-art shared performance space.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The North West Cultural Partnership has used arts and creativity as a catalyst for change over the years, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together in shared experiences.

“The investment of £1.7million by the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, in a new build multi-use performance space will expand their ability and opportunity to facilitate more activities and training; while connecting with wider audiences, not only from the Urban Village area but across the City and further afield, breathing new life into this area.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “The arts play a significant role in promoting peace building in our communities. Creating safe and inclusive spaces to develop an understanding of different cultures is key in building a shared future where everyone is respected.

“This fantastic new state-of-the-art cultural centre in the Fountain will be a welcoming and shared space for locals and visitors alike to participate and engage in theatre, music, dance and much more. This £1.7million investment will also help to rejuvenate and bring new life to the area. I have no doubt it will create real opportunities for local people and will be a real asset to the entire North West area and beyond.”

A leaflet information drop to local residents will be undertaken by the council as delivery partner with the Urban Villages Initiative. The local community, interested groups and stakeholders can attend an information webinar to find out what will be on offer to them in this new facility.

The public can view plans on the DCSDC planning portal and at the council offices, while complying with Government guidance allows.

This £1.7million investment is designed to not only enhance the local environment and improve community relations and engagement, but restore pride and confidence among those living and working in this area of the city.

CGI for illustration purposes only - New arts and culture centre in the Fountain
CGI for illustration purposes only - New arts and culture centre in the Fountain

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, said: “I welcome the proposed investment from the NI Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative and the objectives set out for the project. I am confident the refurbishment of this important historic building and the proposed extension would be greatly utilised by the entire community and will become a significant arts and cultural venue across the NW region.”

Stephen Gillespie, the council’s Director of Business and Culture, said: “I am delighted to see that this will be a community arts facility that meets the needs and ambitions of local artists, performers, user groups, residents and the wider community, it is most welcomed.”

CGI for illustration purposes only - New arts and culture centre in the Fountain
CGI for illustration purposes only - New arts and culture centre in the Fountain

Notes to editors: 

1. The Urban Villages Initiative is a key action within the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ Strategy. The programme is designed to improve good relations outcomes and to help develop thriving places where there has previously been a history of deprivation and community tension.

2. The Urban Villages Initiative delivers a range of community-led, cross-cutting and capital projects through a collaborative approach with councils, government departments and local community organisations with a good relations focus for the benefit of people living, working and visiting the five Urban Village areas.

There are five Urban Village Areas, as follows:

  • Derry~Londonderry: Bogside, Fountain & Bishop Street.
  • South Belfast: Sandy Row, Donegall Pass & the Markets.
  • North Belfast: Ardoyne & Greater Ballysillan.
  • East Belfast: Newtownards Road, Grampian Avenue to Bridge End.
  • West Belfast: Colin Area.

3. The two images above are computer-generated images and for illustration purposes only.

4. Follow us on twitter @ExecOfficeNI and @UrbanVillagesNI

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