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Thursday, 02 July 2015

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Group set to help redevelop Cockermouth arts centre

A £200,000 fund-raising campaign has been launched to help finance a £2.3 million redevelopment of Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre.

A Friends of the Kirkgate group has been formed to embark on a series of fund-raising events.

The group aims to raise £200,000 to extend and modernise the popular venue.

The first fund-raising event will be held at 8pm tonight when All Saints’ Community Rock Choir will perform at the centre.

Kirkgate Arts, which runs the centre, has already received £1,000 from donations and subscriptions made by people who have become a Friend of the centre.

It is hoped that the rest of the money will be grant-funded from sources including Arts Council England and Big Lottery Fund.

The arts community centre, which opened in 1995, won planning permission last year for an extension which will include a cafe, a new box office, community meeting room, offices, improved stage access and dressing rooms.

Steve Barrie, deputy chairman of Kirkgate Arts and membership secretary of Friends of the Kirkgate, said: “The redevelopment will mean we can get better quality acts and it will be a better experience for people coming in.”

Kirkgate Arts hope to have all the money in place by the end of 2015 and it is anticipated that work could start at the beginning of 2016.

The centre will close while construction takes place, which would last about nine months, and would reopen in early 2017. A transition group has been formed and is planning where staff will be based and where events will be held in the town.

Kate Parry, general manager, said: “The Kirkgate has got a lot of people who care about it.

“If people in the town treasure the Kirkgate Centre, we really want them to sign up as Friends. It’s about showing your support for something that provides a lot for so many different people.

“We want to show grant-funders that we are making an effort to do something locally.”

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The centre has around 120 volunteers and many have signed up to become Friends of the Kirkgate.

One of them is Peter Daley, 58, of Mayo Park, Cockermouth, who said: “The Kirkgate needs to be improved to make it more viable and attractive for the people of Cockermouth and the surrounding areas.”

For more information about becoming a Friend of the Kirkgate, contact the centre on 01900 826448.

Tickets for tonight’s event cost £8 and £5 for concessions. They are available from the centre’s box office or Billy Bowman’s Music Shop on Lowther Went.

Other ideas for fund-raising include an auction, band night and Cockfrock event, which would involve the sale of women’s clothes.

Planning permission for the redevelopment came after a government appeal inspector overturned Allerdale council’s earlier refusal to allow the work.

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