Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Pop-up hub to help breathe new creative life into Leicester’s historic Church Gate

PEOPLE are being invited to discover a new pop-up creative hub located in the heart of Leicester’s historic Church Gate.

Called BETA X, the project has brought together a diverse community of artists, makers, designers, researchers, thinkers and innovators to deliver a programme of events and workshops in a recently renovated property on the historic shopping street.

The project is led by Leicester City Council and supported by Historic England as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.

Over two months, BETA X will make the pop-up art space at 72 Church Gate a hub for creative activities with over 30 free to attend events taking place in the previously vacant property.

The programme has been developed by LCB Depot and De Montfort University and includes activities for all ages including from junk modelling with led lights, blacksmithing workshops, upcycling unwanted clothes into cuddly soft toy companions, cartooning workshops and talks on wartime fashion and the secret life of hats.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “We’ve got some really creative things happening in Leicester and some really creative people doing them. We’ve also got a real wealth of undiscovered architectural treasures in the city.

“To bring all that together in this exciting pop-up creative hub – where people can meet and be creative together in a beautifully restored historic building – is a wonderful showcase for Churchgate and a great reason to rediscover this historic shopping street.”

BETA X is part of the Leicester High Street Heritage Action Zone, a £2.2million heritage-led regeneration scheme backed by Historic England. The national scheme aims to breathe new life into high streets across England, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery and give them a new lease of life for future generations to enjoy.

In Leicester, the four-year programme will focus on projects in the Church Gate and Granby Street conservation areas.

The scheme offers grants to repair and restore historic buildings along with funding street improvements, work to develop options for particularly difficult sites, and a programme of cultural and community engagement.

Examples of work already underway include the pedestrianisation of Church Gate and major improvements to the street scene to create a more attractive for shoppers and visitors; the award of £750,000 to restore the roof of the former HSBC bank of Granby Street; plans to restore the Grand Hotel shopfronts to their original design; and the development of proposals to restore the historic timber warehouse which can be seen to the rear of the courtyard of BETA x’s temporary home at 72 Church Gate.

BETA X is an example of how the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme is supporting local creative industries to help reanimate the high street and encourage people to rediscover the rich architectural heritage of their city centres.

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