Plans to develop a national centre for arts education and research in North Cambridge have taken a further step forward – thanks to news of a successful Arts Council grant.

Notes for Editors

In March, Cambridgeshire County Council’s General Purposes Committee agreed to support a non-repayable commitment of capital investment of between £250,000 and £500,000, to support and unlock other application processes to trusts and national funding, subject to ongoing scrutiny on business case and the securing of the external funding.

And also to support a request for an additional 10 year repayable Council loan of £500,000 as part of the £3.6 million fundraising from multiple streams – which might not be required if external sources of funding were able to support the development to the level expected.

It also agreed the use of a traded reserves by Cambridgeshire Music towards the project at £80K per year for up to 5 years.

And finally, that there should be no draw down unless full funding was identified from external sources.

Arts Council of England have awarded Cambridgeshire County Council £1million towards the CREATE (Centre for Research and Engagement in Arts, Technology and Education) project, consisting of £111K development funding to complete the planning processes, and the remainder to be drawn down as Stage 2 after that point is successfully completed.

The facility aims to bring technology, arts and education together as part of Cambridgeshire Music’s strategy for “makespaces” for communities across the county, enabling high quality recorded and live educational content to be streamed into homes and schools across Cambridgeshire.

The plan envisions work on St Luke’s Barn on the site of the former St Luke’s Primary school, in French’s Road, Cambridge to develop rehearsal, recording and broadcasting spaces for local musicians; a junior conservatoire to develop young talent and greater access to arts therapies for North Cambridge residents.

Matthew Gunn, Head of Cambridgeshire Music, explains: “The whole idea of teaching music by Skype is very new. NESTA funded the first wave of research by North Yorkshire Music Action Zone (NYMAZ) which proved it worked as a concept. We have followed this up with our own research: we are giving lessons to a young percussion learner in Germany from our Huntingdon Centre to trial this exciting new technique – and it is working really well.”

Today’s award means that a potential £2.3m has been raised towards a £3.6m target, and is now dependent on generating a further £1.3m from the private sector.

As part of the next stage of the project Cambridgeshire Music will seek a business partner for headline sponsorship, as well as applying for further grants and launching a big crowdfunding campaign aimed at individuals.

Progress on the development of the CREATE project, will be discussed at the County Council’s Commercial and Investment Committee meeting on July 28.

“Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to developing projects that support every part of our community, recognising our need to generate income and reduce inefficiencies and costs associated with our assets, “ said Cllr Josh Schumann, chair of the Commercial and investment committee.

“As part of this commitment we will consider how to lever the essential extra funding to progress this project, considering all options to bring this redundant site back into use in the best possible way for the people of Cambridgeshire.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “We’re really pleased to support Cambridgeshire Music’s ambitious plans to develop a National Research Centre in Cambridge. Music is a really important part of every child’s education and, if successful at Stage 2, this will provide many more opportunities for children and young people in Cambridgeshire to participate in music, dance and drama.”