Warwick Arts Centre completes £25.5 million redevelopment project

The centre began to temporarily close its doors in 2017 as part of the project - the largest in its 47-year history

Warwick Arts Centre director Doreen Foster outside the transformed Warwick Arts Centre. Photo supplied

Warwick Arts Centre has now officially completed its four-year-long £25.5 million redevelopment project and has begun the 100 day countdown to prepare for its season of arts events.

Part of the University of Warwick campus, Warwick Arts Centre began to temporarily close its doors in 2017 as part of the project - the largest in its 47-year history.

Designed by Ellis Williams Architects, with Bond Bryan as delivery architect, and project managed by Turner and Townsend, despite the pandemic, the construction work by Willmott Dixon completed last week.

Warwick Arts Centre gallery. Photo supplied by Willmott Dixon

The arts complex is now officially handed back to the University of Warwick to prepare for a new season starting in October in Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture

The result is a modern and accessible new space which combines refurbished and upgraded pre-existing spaces with new areas. These include a spacious foyer, three new cinemas (complete with high-end digital projection and sound), a repositioned Mead Gallery, and a new restaurant.

Further details on the transformation will be revealed over the coming months.

Commenting on the completion of Warwick Arts Centre’s redevelopment its director, Doreen Foster, said: “This is a fantastic time for Warwick Arts Centre as we are now one step closer to welcoming visitors back to their arts centre.

Warwick Arts Centre digital auditoria. Photo supplied by Willmott Dixon

"We cannot wait for our audiences to enjoy the experience and make new memories as they engage with the exceptional range of arts and culture that has always been our hallmark, including in our new spaces – such as our new three screen cinema, restaurant and the reimagined Mead Gallery.

“With people throughout the UK and Europe set to visit our city to mark Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, 2021 is set to be for exciting time for arts and culture in our region – and I’m delighted that we will be part of its success.

"I like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved with the redevelopment of Warwick Arts Centre for making this possible and ensuring that audiences and visitors will be able to join us for decades to come. We’re back, bigger and better than ever, and our doors will be open wider than ever before.”

The University of Warwick’s vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft, said: “Sat right at the heart of our main campus, Warwick Arts Centre has been an integral part of the cultural life of our university and region for almost five decades.

"As we celebrate Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, it is wonderful that Warwick Arts Centre will soon be open again for audiences and visitors to come and enjoy all that is has to offer.”

Peter Owen, managing director at Willmott Dixon, said: “We are very pleased that, after a difficult time for the much-loved arts industry, Warwick Arts Centre will later this year be welcoming audiences back to a space that supports and enhances everything the arts has to offer.

"The project involved a number of challenges, not least the constraints of a tight site in the middle of campus and the changing requirements related to Covid-19, so a collaborative approach was vital.

“We have a strong relationship with the University of Warwick, first established during our work on the University’s Oculus Building, then their Sports Hub and Wellness Centre in 2019, and earlier this year the IBRB. This means we are able to truly understand their campus vision and help make it a reality.

“We are very proud to have become a trusted advisor to the University and to have built a relationship which allows us to contribute to the wellbeing and development of not only students but also the people of Warwickshire and beyond.”

Although Warwick Arts Centre won't officially open until October 1, the venue is hosting a number of activities this summer.

This includes Coventry artist Edie Jo Murray's Folklorica, a free augmented reality trail around the university campus, starting at the venue's entrance (available now, until May 2022, as part of UK City Of Culture).

Additionally there will be two summer community projects: Playing Out with the community of Canley, in Coventry, and Curious Objects of Women’s Independence, a visual arts project that explores stories of gaining independence with women from Coventry. This project is led by leading artist, Dawinder Bansal.