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What you need to know about the Warwick Arts Centre’s 20:20 Project

Whether you’re a returning student who’s walked in and around the building for years, or a fresher who’s seen a glimpse on an open day, most of you will know how central (literally and figuratively) the Warwick Arts Centre is to life at our university. But this is a time of great change for it. Since last year, the Arts Centre has embarked on a £17.1 million renovation entitled the 20:20 Project. Here’s an update on what it is and what we can expect when we arrive.

First announced in March 2017, the project is intended to turn the Arts Centre into “a modern, updated, larger space”. The Arts Centre was first built in 1974 and the project has been explained as an effort to “renew” the venue, especially because it is likely to play an important part in the City of Culture 2021 festivities in Coventry.

The venue is likely to play an important part in the City of Culture 2021 festivities in Coventry

Over the summer, Warwick Arts Centre welcomed its new Artistic Director, Doreen Foster. In a comment for The Boar, she said, “I’ve arrived at an exciting time in the Arts Centre’s calendar. Returning students can expect to see the re-opening of the Music Centre within the Arts Centre, a new Creative Learning Space and a refurbished Theatre and Studio. The Café Bar will be re-located in the old restaurant space.” The Woods-Scawen Room will also be reopening.

This first phase of the project has been focused on refurbishment rather than building new spaces. Among the updates, the Theatre will have improved accessible seating, updated technical equipment and wiring and better lighting positions. With the Theatre and Studio back open, the temporary space built last summer, christened by Warwick students as the Goose Nest, has been torn down, and will surely be missed by many of the students who visited or worked in it.

Over the summer, Warwick Arts Centre welcomed its new Artistic Director, Doreen Foster

On to the next phase! This will last far longer, with a scheduled end in October 2020, and focus on expansion and upgrades to the front of the building facing onto the Piazza. The current building will be demolished and replaced with a focus towards extending towards the main road and keeping facilities accessible. After the building works, the Meade Gallery will be on the ground floor and three new auditoriums (with capacities of 60, 180, and 250) will replace the old Cinema.

However, all these changes of course mean that the Cinema and Meade Gallery will be closed from October. A goodbye event for the Meade Gallery took place on 28-29 September, when artists “ran wild” around the old space. During its closure, art events will continue around campus and beyond, including through the University Sculpture Trail.

Art events will continue around campus and beyond, including through the University Sculpture Trail

For those disappointed in the closure of the Cinema, the Warwick Student Cinema hosts screenings throughout the year in the Physics and Chemistry Building; chain cinemas can also be reached by bus in Coventry and Leamington. Theatre lovers may be gladdened to know that broadcasts from the RSC, National Theatre and more will be available in the main Theatre at the Arts Centre.

The Bookshop, which some feared would permanently close its doors after no alternate space was announced, moved in to a space in the SU building on September 3rd.

Foster continued, “I’m also looking forward to meeting all the new students and welcoming them to everything the Arts Centre can offer – whether that’s watching events, participating in drama and music societies or working with us – to help ensure their time at Warwick is creative and memorable.” The Arts Centre team also pointed out to us that they offer many volunteering opportunities for students, including in Front of House.

Get involved here.

Read more about the 20:20 Project here.

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