Derby secures Levelling Up funding to progress plans for Assembly Rooms site

Published: 18 January 2023

Artist's impression of Project Assemble learning theatre on site of Assembly Rooms

How a new learning theatre on the Assembly Rooms site could look

Derby has secured £20m Government Levelling Up funding towards an ambitious plan to redevelop the Assembly Rooms site.

The funding will contribute towards the vision for a new purpose-built learning theatre on the site, putting culture at the heart of the area’s rejuvenation.  

City partners believe a vibrant cultural sector plays a critical part in delivering economic growth and attracting investment. It’s estimated that a new venue would increase theatre attendance by 83,000 and attract an additional 25,000 visitors to Derby each year, generating an additional £1.7m per year for the local economy.

The new learning theatre would also provide opportunities for the wider Derby community to develop skills in the cultural sector. It would create a vibrant cultural heart for the city with the transformed Market Hall and new performance venue at Becketwell, and the existing Déda, QUAD and Museum of Making.

The announcement of the successful bid is expected to act as a significant catalyst in regenerating the city centre and help attract further funding and investment.

Responding to the announcement the Leader of Derby City Council, Councillor Chris Poulter, said:

This funding is an endorsement that Derby is a place to invest. It comes off the back of Derbion and the University of Derby both announcing transformational plans to re-develop key areas of our city.

At Becketwell regeneration is well underway, the new public square and apartment block are nearing completion and construction work on Becketwell Performance Venue is set to start this year. The transformation of Derby Market Hall is moving a pace and Derbion are in the process of redeveloping the Eagle Market and creating the Eastern Gateway. Derby is very much on the move.

Derby has a strong and successful history of delivering culture in partnership from major events such as Derby Festé to key assets like the QUAD. Arts Council England recently awarded £15,000 to the city to develop the strategic, partner-led Culture Derby partnership. Derby Theatre, Derby City Council and University of Derby are working together on the learning theatre scheme.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL (Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Derby and Chair of Derby Theatre Board) and Sarah Brigham (CEO and Artistic Director, Derby Theatre) said:

We are delighted that the Government see Derby as a place to invest in and culture as the driving force for regeneration. The Learning Theatre model, which the University of Derby and Derby Theatre have trailblazed over the last 10 years, has shown real impact for the city, not only by bringing critically acclaimed and award-winning shows to our stages, but also in the impact it has had on our communities.

We look forward to working with Derby City Council in ensuring that the LUF funds will contribute to a vibrant future for our Theatre and our city.

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