Today Gecko took a significant step towards creating its new world-class theatre making space and new home in Ipswich.
With the support of £499,000 funding from the Arts Council and working in partnership with Ipswich Borough Council, physical theatre company Gecko will transform a disused industrial Waterfront building into the Gecko Creation Space. The new venue will provide a nationally significant resource for the creation of world-class performance work, as well as delivering essential training and support for the mid-scale sector. The venue will be designed to be fully accessible and environmentally sustainable.
The support of Arts Council underpins Gecko’s fundraising campaign which kicks off today, seeking to raise a total of £1million in order to realise its dreams of a new, permanent home on Ipswich’s waterfront.
Over the next 18 months, Gecko plans to raise a further £500,000 through grants, corporate and private donations and a crowdfunding campaign that will support the installation of cutting-edge technical facilities and introduces a legacy scheme that supports emerging artists and companies.
Gecko’s Artistic Director, Amit Lahav, said: “It is hard to overstate the impact this funding from Arts Council England will have on Gecko and the creation of our work. The Creation Space is a game changer for the company giving us somewhere to make, build and technically and artistically evolve our pieces in a beautiful building. We need this space because we are starting to build shows for iconic venues such as the Barbican Theatre and creating work for companies such as BBC and the Chemical Brothers. Our ambitions for the use and set up of the space are unique and extremely exciting, like nothing I have seen elsewhere in the UK or internationally”.
The main element of the Creation Space will be a large studio with a sprung dance floor. This will be the full height of the warehouse with level access, stage lighting, sound and the ability to work in natural light or blackout.
The 430-sq-metre space will also include Gecko’s offices, a meeting room that doubles as a sound recording studio and a fabrication workshop for building props and set elements.
Already considered an industry leader in the creation of devised physical theatre, the funding from Arts Council England will transform Gecko’s creation process, supporting the highly technical integrated design process that is Gecko’s trademark style.
Away from the stage, the Creation Space will provide significant opportunities to expand Gecko’s delivery for professionals, students, young people and communities. It will allow the company to increase CPD residencies to 5 per year to meet demand and host educational workshops, bringing students into a professional working environment.
As well as having wider industry significance, especially to the important mid-scale theatre sector, The Creation Space is part of a vision that drives forward the regeneration of Ipswich’s iconic Waterfront. Ipswich Borough Council Leader David Ellesmere said: “This is great news for Ipswich and we are delighted to be working with Gecko on this key cultural project. Not only does this announcement represent a big step forward for our plans for a creative hub, it also helps to secure the regeneration of this gateway to the Waterfront. This will be a major transformation and we will be working up our proposals with Gecko and other potential partners.”
Gecko has become deeply integrated with the community in the town and one of the ambitions for The Creation Space is that it consolidates and improves the cultural infrastructure of Ipswich, offers enhanced potential for collaboration and raises the local cultural profile, engagement and reputation for innovation and excellence.
Refurbishing an existing building is more sustainable than creating a new building and under the current proposals Ipswich Borough Council will refurbish the shell of the building, with Gecko responsible for the refit of the internal space.
The planning application has been submitted to Ipswich Borough Council and, subject to planning approval, Gecko is set to move into the space at the beginning of 2021 in time for the technical making of its new show.