The Box at FarGo Village is being upgraded into a state-of-the-art performing arts and events venue and office space in Coventry’s Creative Quarter.
The building, which started life as a carpet warehouse, in Far Gosford Street has held events for the last three years but is now undergoing a £750,000 revamp ahead of Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021.
The innovative project has received £193,00 funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Project (CWLEP) and the remaining amount from Coventry City Council and Complex Development Projects which developed FarGo Village.
A new demountable stage, theatre lighting and audio system along with conference seating for up to 250 people is to be built to facilitate a flexible space with opportunities for end, side or centre stage positions to suit performers preferences. New artists changing rooms have also been provided with full accessibility for those with mobility issues.
The area will have a standing capacity of 500 and there will also be a fully equipped bar/café when the refurbishment is completed.
A new mezzanine office including eye-catching cantilever containers on the outside of the building has been created to provide permanent offices and meeting rooms with up to 25 new jobs created on site.
This scheme is part of the Completing the Culture Capital project which was a £2.4 million package of investment from the Local Growth Fund in key venues and production spaces which are essential for the successful delivery of UK City of Culture in 2021.
Minister for Local Growth Jake Berry MP said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the Midlands Engine and rebalancing the economy so that it works for everyone and ensures a fairer Britain fit for the future.
“Our £193,000 Local Growth Fund investment will allow The Box to enhance the range of arts and events on offer, and improve the visitor experience for the local community and the tourists alike, which is particularly important as Coventry prepares to celebrate being UK City of Culture in 2021.”
Brian Harrabin, a director at Complex Development Projects, said this was an exciting opportunity to make the most of the flexible space at The Box.
He said: “Ahead of Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021, this is an ideal opportunity to significantly extend the range of programmes we hold in The Box.
“We required capital investment to equip The Box for wider uses to become a more flexible performing arts and events venue as well as improve the facility for our visitors. We feel that there will not be a similar venue in the area and therefore this should add to Coventry’s diverse offer.
“Work is well underway on the refurbishment and we aim to be fully open in September although we continue to host events in the space in the meantime.”
Parveen Rai, a board director at the CWLEP, said this would be a great venue to provide a wider variety of entertainment.
“When The Box is fully open again, it will provide new income streams and consolidate FarGo Village as a destination with a major increase in visitors during the evening and week days,” she said.
“The increase in visitors to The Box and the new permanent staff on site will have a further positive impact on the 40 on-site businesses which is another bonus.
“The Local Growth Fund was set-up to give autonomy to LEPs to allocate funding to projects which would support their economy and boost businesses and this project is a perfect example of that and will be a legacy of 2021 when Coventry is UK City of Culture.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council and CWLEP board director, said: “FarGo is located on one of our finest and most loved medieval streets and over recent years the whole area has undergone a massive transformation. It’s alive with creative talent and the development of The Box will see even more people visiting and enjoying FarGo and the wider Far Gosford Street.
“The Box will also provide a great legacy for performers and creatives after we have enjoyed being City of Culture.”
Caption: From the left, Lucy Thompstone (FarGo Village), Parveen Rai (CWLEP), Brian Harrabin (Complex Development Projects) and Cllr Jim O’Boyle (Coventry City Council)