Funding boost to help North Shields venue

The Exchange's Arts Administrator Beverley Knight and Artistic Director Karen Knox celebrate the �48,000 windfall for the building. Picture by RusbyMedia.
The Exchange's Arts Administrator Beverley Knight and Artistic Director Karen Knox celebrate the �48,000 windfall for the building. Picture by RusbyMedia.

An inclusive community space for arts and culture is set to get a new lease of life after receiving nearly £50,000.

The Exchange in Howard Street, North Shields, has welcomed hundreds of artists, singers, musicians, theatre companies and performers since it opened three years ago.

Now the grade II-listed building, run by The Exchange charity, is set for a makeover after receiving £48,000 from the Coastal Revival Fund – one of 23 projects chosen.

Areas of the former Methodist church, which was built in 1856, that will benefit include the main auditorium, box office, dressing rooms and café kitchen.

The Exchange’s artistic director Karen Knox said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this money, it is going to make such a difference to what we are able to do here.

“We have had so many fantastic, talented acts through our doors, and the changes we will make to our facilities will ensure we are able to continue attracting top quality performers, as well as grass roots theatre and community groups.

“We see ourselves as a cultural centre for North Tyneside and we are confident we will be able to continue bringing the arts to all for a long time to come.

“We want to say a huge thank you to the Coastal Communities Fund, as well North Tyneside Council, North Shields Fish Quays Coastal Community Team and Cornerstone Fundraising for their vital support of our application.”

The building, which has a café-bar, 300-seater auditorium and exhibition space, was opened by The Exchange charity on New Year’s Day 2016.

Changes to the building will be made as part of The Exchange’s 21st Century Project and will include an updated ticketing system, new seats and lighting for the auditorium, redecoration of the dressing rooms and box office, and refitting of the café’s kitchen.

Work is due to begin by April and continue during 2019.

Coun Sarah Day, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “This is fantastic news for the venue and the local community. The Exchange is an important heritage site, which has been reborn as a vibrant performance venue and a home for creative businesses.

“The funding will allow the management team to build on their achievements, upgrade their facilities and enhance the audience experience, while also helping to attract higher profile artists and make a positive contribution to the local economy. I would like to congratulate the team for a remarkable achievement in putting together this bid.”

Northern Powerhouse and Coastal Communities Minister Jake Berry MP, said: “I’m proud to support these 23 magnificent projects from Ryde to Runcorn with investment from the Government’s Coastal Revival Fund.

“Putting heritage at the heart of our coastal towns is an important way of attracting visitors and boosting our local economies.

“We’re determined to save these historic landmarks for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations while delivering on our promise to invest over a quarter of a billion pounds into the Great British Coast by 2020.”

For more information on The Exchange, including forthcoming acts and volunteering opportunities, head to http://www.attheexchange.info or check it out on Facebook and Twitter at @attheexchange.

To get in contact with The Exchange, email contact@theexchange.live or call them on 0191 258 4111.