This Wigan arts centre in will use investment to expand its work and create a new arts hub in an area in need of cultural engagement.
Established as a Community Interest Company in 2010 and initially based in a former mill, since 2014 The Old Courts arts centre has found itself in an expansive Victorian courthouse, in the heart of Wigan. Within its walls, the venue hosts everything from live music to theatre, specialist schools to artists’ studios, public debates to weddings.
Being the only major arts centre in the borough, The Old Courts has a lot of responsibility fostering cultural participation. For example, its School of Rock programme connects school-age children with expert tutors who facilitate song-craft and performance. In theatre, The Old Courts runs groups for children and adults and frequently collaborates with a local drama and performing arts college. Across all art forms, there are regular opportunities for participants to perform through different formats and spaces in the historic courthouse.
In 2017, there arose an opportunity to purchase the former Grand Hotel in Wigan, a now derelict site two-minutes walk away from The Old Courts. The Old Courts approached the Arts Impact Fund for a £590,000 loan to fund the acquisition of the building, to be repaid from operating surpluses and future fundraising.
This 42-bedroom mock-Tudor site would allow the organisation to expand its provision of artist studio space as well as add a new performance venue. It would also allow the Old Courts to provide dedicated workspace and equipment on a membership model for early-stage entrepreneurs in the digital creative industries and provide in-house accommodation for artists visiting the borough, resulting in substantial cost-savings.
Not only will this contribute a thriving cultural scene in Wigan, but it will also preserve a key piece of physical heritage for future generations to come.
Read the full case study on The Old Courts on the Arts Impact Fund website.