City centre entertainment venue plans gain momentum
Plans to look into the feasibility of a new multi-purpose performance venue in Exeter city centre have taken a step forward.
Exeter City Council has appointed destination development experts Fourth Street to explore the potential, opportunity and viability of an entertainment venue as part of the £300 million plans to redevelop the wider St Sidwell’s Point area – next to the leisure centre and new bus station – which were revealed in November.
Fourth Street, supported by Hopkins Architects, has been asked to define the size and use of any facility, along with a 25-year business plan.
Last year, the Council stressed that an entertainment venue could not be built with public funds alone. This followed a survey in which 70% of those who took part favoured the city centre as the location for a potential new entertainment venue, rather than on the outskirts or out of the city entirely.
The survey was carried out by independent research agency Marketing Means. Those taking part said they would like to see a venue that put on drama, pop, rock, musical theatre and comedy, with around half those responding saying that they would attend such events.
Versatility was seen as key to a potential new venue, with around three-quarters of those questioned favouring a multi-purpose building offering multiple stage configurations and flexible seating/standing options.
Most of those taking part in the surveys agreed that a new entertainment venue would attract visitors and tourists, enhance Exeter’s reputation, have a positive impact on the night-time economy in Exeter, and help regenerate parts of the city centre.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, welcomed the awarding of the new contract. She said: “We’re delighted to appoint Fourth Street and look forward to seeing what they come up with.”
Fourth Street will now work alongside Exeter’s cultural community and existing facilities to formulate the plans. A report will then be drawn up and go through the Council’s committee cycle later in the summer.
Jim Roberts, Director of Fourth Street, will lead the study. He said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Council in exploring how a new cultural venue may be developed and what it could offer to the community of Exeter and the further regeneration of the city centre.”