An exciting new creative hub offering aspiring young artists, dancers and musicians a venue to showcase their talents could soon be launched in Coventry.
The temporary creative, cultural and community centre concept is the brainchild of Coventry-based entrepreneurs Robert Bowell and John Dawkins of Flat Cap Godiva Productions.
They say the centre, earmarked for a currently disused building at 50 Bishop Street, would create jobs, attract investment and bring vitality and vibrancy to a rundown area of the city centre.
They have been given a short-term lease on the disused building. If the concept is successful they will look for a permanent base elsewhere in the city.
Barberry Developments, which owns the building, is working alongside Coventry City Council and Flat Cap Godiva Productions to ensure the new centre offers young people employment opportunities and an outlet for their creative talents.
Robert Bowell said: “We are very excited about the project at Bishop Street. We want to help create a movement in the city and spark youth development and creativity. John is an ambassador for the city of Coventry and we are determined to create an amazing venue which will not only create jobs but bring a new lease of life, vibrancy and vitality to the area.
“This is a cultural experiment in the form of a creative hub running for a six-month period which will draw a focus to the Bishop Gate regeneration. We will be following models set up by creatives in London which John has had first-hand experience of dealing with during his 12 years working in the music industry.”
During the day the centre would provide space for rehearsals, art, performance groups, martial arts, an independent vintage market and free internet access for students. At night it will become a music venue.
Councillor Lynette Kelly, city development cabinet member, said: “I am delighted that these two local creatives have such an exciting vision for this new venture in the city. It’s great that they will be bringing an un-used building back in to use and at the same time putting something back into their home city too.
“We have lots of very talented young people in Coventry and I am sure there will be lots of interest from people wanting to showcase their work as well as helping to develop new talent. I wish Robert and John every success.”
Barberry Developments director Henry Bellfield (pictured above) said: “We were approached by Robert and John who have a vision of creating a cultural hub in a building which is currently disused. We have agreed to allow them to use it on a short-term basis ahead of the redevelopment of the site.
“We support the initiative because it will bring new life to the area and will offer young people fantastic opportunities to showcase their work. A key part of the project from our point of view is that it offers Coventry University fine art students a venue to stage exhibitions and a fundraising auction.
“We also believe that using vacant space to create jobs for young people in this tough economic climate can only be a good thing. One of the UK’s biggest challenges is youth unemployment so it seems only right to support a venture that seeks to help young people get into work.”
The new centre could be launched at the end of the month if renovation work is completed and negotiations are successfully concluded.
Mr Bellfield is continuing to work alongside supermarket operators and Coventry City Council to turn the Bishop Gate plans into reality. The creation of the cultural centre would have no negative impact on the scheme’s progress.
Barberry’s ambitious Bishop Gate proposals could create hundreds of jobs for the city. Barberry purchased the 200,000 sq ft former Royal Mail Sorting Centre and adjoining properties, including 50 Bishop Street, in 2011 and the council has granted outline planning consent for a large, retail-led scheme. The company will be attending MIPIM, the annual commercial property event in Cannes, as part of the Coventry MIPIM Partnership.
Barberry, a privately-owned development and investment company based in Worcestershire, has spent the last 18 months conducting negotiations and vital research in order to ensure that the completed Bishop Gate scheme benefits the city residents and visitors for many years to come.