MBNA has announced a significant investment in Chester’s iconic, new Cultural Centre. This capital project, funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council with support from Arts Council England, is the largest cultural development under construction outside London. The centre – housed in the sensitively renovated Odeon, a Grade II Art Deco building – will deliver a cultural hub fit for the 21st century.
The MBNA investment builds on its long track record of supporting arts, culture, sport, education and community organisations across Cheshire and the North West.
Ian O’Doherty, chief executive of MBNA, said, “Chester is our home. It is a vibrant and dynamic city. This cultural development will be the catalyst for further ground-breaking development which will increase the city’s attractiveness as a destination for employment and tourism. The centre will become a cultural hub, not only for the people of Chester and the North West, but for visitors from across the UK and overseas. MBNA is proud to support this key development in our city.
“MBNA will have the opportunity to test some innovative technologies in areas including transactions, payments, ticketing and memberships in a collaboration that will benefit all of the partners involved in this ground-breaking project.”
The centre will offer a wide range of cultural activities including a ground-breaking 800-seat theatre, a 150-seat studio theatre, a 100-seat boutique cinema, and a fully-integrated public lending library. Development work is already underway on the site which is scheduled to open to the public towards the end of 2016.
Councillor Stuart Parker, executive member for Culture and Economy, said, “From the moment they arrived in Chester, MBNA has made a major contribution to the life of the city and its communities.
“Chester’s Cultural Centre is the key that will unlock the door to the vital Northgate development and the renaissance of Chester as an international visitor and shopping mecca.
“MBNA’s generous support of this iconic project helps create the essential blend of culture, retail and leisure, which will help to open the road to prosperity for future generations.”
Sir Peter Bazalgette, chair of the Arts Council England, said, “MBNA’s investment in Chester’s new Cultural Centre is very welcome and an excellent example of how private/public partnerships can really make a difference in the regeneration of a city. The project also shows the strength of the local authority’s vision and investment in using arts and culture as a spearhead for this redevelopment. The new hub will help Chester increase its appeal as a place to experience great art and culture as well as lead to extra visitors and expenditure in the area.”
Andrew Bentley, Chief Executive of Chester Performs, which will be managing the centre, said “MBNA has supported our creative programme for many years and we’re thrilled that they’re now joining us on this transformational journey into the Cultural Centre.”