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Lottery grant £6.5m to Newport's arts centre

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A riverside development to provide cultural facilities including a £10.3 million theatre and arts centre (below) on the west bank of the River Usk at Newport, South Wales, has been awarded a £6.5m lottery grant by the Arts Council of Wales.

Designed by the Cardiff office of Austin-Smith:Lord, the project, as yet unamed, is intended to fill a major gap in the town's cultural and artistic provision. Additionally, says the architect, the building is aimed at giving Newport a 24-hour presence (it will be fully-lit after dark) and kick-starting the regeneration of the town centre.

'The position is unique,' says asl partner Robert Firth. 'Few views in Wales are as significant as the first view visitors gain as they enter Newport by rail or road.'

The complex will include two performance spaces and a dance studio, together with a host of other facilities, including an art gallery, a series of art and craft studios, a bar and cafe, a shop and the usual box office and front-of-house requirements.

Bath-based theatre consultant Carr & Angier is working with asl to create a 500-seat main auditorium with an unusual asymmetric layout. There will also be a flexible studio theatre seating 150 for theatre-in-the-round, film shows and other performances. A publicly-accessible terrace at the top of the tower will be reached by a staircase which will wrap around it.

The client is the Newport county borough council, which is committing £3.3 million to the project. Construction is due to start on the site in September or October 2000, with completion scheduled for two years later.

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