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February News from Shanklin by Cllr Christopher Quirk and Cllr Michael Beston

Shanklin Performing Arts, Museum & Heritage Centre Update
As working volunteers of the Shanklin Theatre & Community Trust, we have now officially submitted our planning application to build a new performing arts, museum and heritage centre on the site of the former Shanklin library in Victoria Avenue. The building will include a modern twist of materials and finishes, and designed to deliberately stand out and be noticed and talked about. The concept and vision behind the building is to provide training, development and rehearsal facilities for the performing arts, which do not necessarily suit the scale and arrangements of the main Shanklin Theatre. A public consultation was held at the end of last year, and 79% of those who attended support the plans for a “destination” building of architectural interest. Once completed, five part-time jobs will be created.

Supporting the Performing Arts and more
Plans for the new building include:

  •  A main Auditorium space with a flexible set up
  •  106 moveable tiered seating and staging, allowing for more intimate performances
  •  Audition space

Studio spaces on the lower level, of various sizes to allow for maximum flexibility for different user groups such as: dance & fitness classes, youth organisations, support groups, committee meetings, birthday or celebration parties etc. All the studio spaces will be fitted with sprung performance flooring and acoustic linings.

Museum and Heritage Centre
A large area on the upper floor will be dedicated as a Museum and Heritage centre, specialising in Local historical information, focused on both Shanklin and Isle of Wight history, for the benefit of the local community and visitors to the area.

It is also envisaged to allow space for local artists to display their artwork, and to allow for exhibitions and events evenings. At the far end of the upper floor will be a flexible Performers Rest area, which will accommodate downtime between performances, additional dressing spaces if needed, or for an occasional overnight stay if a performer cannot get back to the mainland. This floor level is accessed from the entrance lobby via the
main staircase, and also from a passenger lift.

In the past, many local events have taken place in the buildings on the site, it being used as a meeting house for the ‘Shanklin Local Board’ and later as the Town’s Fire Station and then the Town Library. The current buildings have been excessively altered over time and poorly maintained and therefore have little significant historic value, beyond being the site of the locally historic events. Certain elements of the original building, its inscribed lintels, round headed arch and tympanum for instance, will be incorporated into the design of the building’s replacement.

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