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Salisbury Arts Centre to upgrade facilities with Capital award

  • Date: 25 July 2014
  • Area: South West
The old kiln at Salisbury Arts Centre

A final firing: the old kiln at Salisbury Arts Centre will be replaced as part of the Capital upgrade. Credit: (c) SAC

Leading regional venue Salisbury Arts Centre has been awarded £195,000 from our National Lottery funded Capital scheme towards a programme of work that will see facilities at their Grade II Listed church building upgraded and improved.

The Arts Council England National portfolio organisation will undertake a 15-month period of renovation to improve access and enhance their visitor experience by replacing the entry doors and lift, upgrading the raked seating and refurbishing the toilets.  Other projects include replacing the kiln in the pottery, buying new sound and lighting systems, replacing the exhibition walls and dance floor and upgrading the building's broadband facilities. 

It has been more than ten years since the Grade II Listed church building was redeveloped and the organisation has grown considerably since then.  Making the building more welcoming, inclusive and energy-efficient will help Salisbury Arts Centre be more resilient and make the most of the £4.2million investment in the 2003 redevelopment.

News of the capital award came on the same day that Salisbury Arts Centre was announced as one of the 83 organisations in the south west which will be in the National portfolio for 2015/18.

Director of Salisbury Arts Centre Gemma Okell said: 'Salisbury Arts Centre is honoured to have been selected as one of Arts Council England's National Portfolio Organisations.  We share their mission of providing great art for everyone and are delighted to have been recognised for our work in opening up the arts to new audiences in Wiltshire.  The next three years of funding, along with ongoing support from Wiltshire Council and Salisbury City Council, will enable us to further develop our programmes. We will have a particular focus on supporting families, young people and disabled audiences to attend professional arts events and take part in exciting creative experiences.'

Salisbury Arts Centre was founded in 1975 but the first church on the site was built and dedicated to St Edmund in 1180.  By 1407 the original church was too small for the burgeoning congregation and was destroyed to be replaced by a larger building.  The second church survived for 200 years before collapsing and being rebuilt once again in 1653, making it one of only two English churches building during the commonwealth period.  Between the 17th and 20th century, there were several additions and conservation works done but by the 1970s congregation numbers were falling and it was decided to merge with the neighbouring parish of St Thomas'.

In 1975 a covenant was drawn up with the local District Council that saw the building handed over but its use restricted to social, educational and recreational activities - Salisbury Arts Centre was born.

Since then it has developed into a busy and popular community arts centre with a broad programme of events and workshops, including contemporary dance and theatre, outdoor performance, visual art and new media, world and art house cinema and music of all kinds.  In 2012/13 there were also over 15,000 attendances in the 1,114 workshops and 306 other participatory events, 66% of them by children, young people and their families and 53% at no cost to the participants.. 

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'We're delighted to be supporting the refurbishment of Salisbury Arts Centre through this award from our National Lottery-funded Capital programme.  The centre does exceptional work, particularly in championing disability arts and in their outstanding and diverse offers for children and young people.  By investing in the building we are helping to secure a bright future for the organisation.'


Find out more about our Capital programme for 2015/18 at