New project lights up Derby to boost the city centre

Published: 15 February 2022

QUAD Derbion illuminations project Winter 2021/22

Snowflakes projected on Derbion

A new project supported by Derby City Council is set to light up landmark buildings with high definition illuminations, making the city centre a more attractive place to be.

QUAD, Derby’s arts centre and charity based in Derby Market Place, is behind the project which has won £50,000 from Derby City Council’s Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Vibrancy fund.

With the funding TECH:SQUAD, QUAD’s technical team, have bought three high definition 20,000 lumens projectors to light up city centre buildings to create events in themselves. They are also buying smaller projectors and lenses to use for displays such as lighting the frontages of historic shop buildings.

The team has built up expertise in projected light displays over a number of years, working with leading national landmarks such as the National Trust to wrap up a property like a Christmas tree as part of a festive light night, or projecting the history of Derby onto the Silk Mill. Each time this has involved hiring in expensive projectors, adding to the cost.

Now TECH:SQUAD own their own projectors, partners in the city will be able to use them with QUAD’s support in developing the content and operating them. Derby City Council is putting together guidelines to ensure they are used for maximum impact.

The team at QUAD is already working with Derbion, who have put additional funding into the project to produce animated displays, including fireworks, on the side of the shopping centre. Trials for the new equipment also took place in the run up to Christmas, with festive illuminations on Derbion and snowfall projected onto the front of the Council House for the Christmas lights switch on event.

Derby Cathedral tower is another location where there are plans to use the projectors. QUAD produced the stunning animated projections there during Christmas 2020. Their newly-acquired large projectors, first used in the UK for the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, will give double the quality and definition of those displays.

Dr Alex Rock, Head of Technical and Commerical Services at QUAD, said:

TECH:SQUAD has had a vision to purchase these projectors for the city of Derby since 2019, and the ARG funding alongside support from Derbion has facilitated that. What this now means is that the city of Derby, at low cost, can use projection mapping to highlight its key landmarks, bringing vibrancy to the city and spectacular light shows to the public.

We’re very excited, in 2022, to be working on projection-mapping projects across the city, including Derbion roof, Derby City Council house, the tower of Derby Cathedral, and a number of key historic retail units in the city centre.

Adam Tamsett, general manager at Derbion, added:

Derbion is proud to be working alongside Derby City Council and Derby QUAD on the illuminations on the exterior of the centre. The projections were live throughout December, helping to spread cheer throughout the festive period and we look forward to continuing to work together on the project.

The aim of the ARG Vibrancy Fund is to support projects that will help bring footfall back into the city centre, making it a more attractive place to be while local businesses and the city economy recover from the impact of COVID. So far the pot of £250,000 has funded around 11 projects.

Councillor Ross McCristal, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, said:

This funding for QUAD will make vibrant, high quality lighting projections possible for our partners across the city as we all work to find ways to bring people back to the city centre. It’s this kind of working which is at the heart of our bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. It’s a good example of how our ARG Vibrancy Fund can be used to good effect, although the real winners will be visitors to Derby who will experience some fantastic light shows that are events in themselves.

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