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The Corporation

Posted: 17/11/10

College unveils plans for £5 million creative arts centre

West Nottinghamshire College has announced ambitious plans for a £5 million creative arts centre that promises to transform teaching and learning.

It heralds a “dynamic new approach” by college chiefs to rejuvenating the Derby Road campus, after missing out on funding last year to build a new college on neighbouring land.

The flagship facility will provide media, music and performance students with state-of-the-art equipment and resources including:

  • workshop and rehearsal space
  • television, radio and digital recording studios
  • multi-media, animation and video editing suites
  • a commercial software training centre
  • modern classrooms
  • performing arts and dance studios
  • a 150-seat performance theatre
  • ‘shop-front’-style windows for students to display their work.

The centre will accommodate all students from the college’s media studio in Thoresby Street and some from its Chesterfield Road site, both in Mansfield.

It will be created by remodelling existing office and classroom space in the single-storey workshop area of the college, opposite the cemetery on Derby Road.

Works will get under way in January, with the building due to open its doors in September 2011, when it will accommodate up to 240 students and around 25 teaching staff.

It is hoped the centre becomes a focal point for local musicians and touring companies, who will be encouraged to make use of its recording studios, rehearsal space and performance theatre.

Principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE said:  “We have put our disappointment at not receiving the funding to build the new college firmly behind us.  Instead we are moving forwards with a dynamic new approach to bringing world-class educational facilities to the area.

“The creative arts centre will provide an inspirational learning environment that raises our students’ aspirations and skill levels; providing relevant vocational training and education that leads to employment opportunities.

“It will create opportunities to expand the range of courses and qualifications available, and open up the possibility of offering apprenticeship programmes across the creative arts for the first time.”

The scheme is being funded by the college, aided by a £225,000 grant from the Skills Funding Agency.  Although it does not require planning permission, college bosses have kept Mansfield District Council’s planning officers fully informed of the proposals.

In order to free-up space for the new facility, several of the college’s business support teams are relocating to Ransom Hall, at Ransom Wood Business Park, off Southwell Road, Mansfield.

Around 150 staff will transfer to Ransom Hall before Christmas, with the building becoming the central hub for the college’s ‘back office’ functions such as finance, payroll, human resources, learner records and exams, and employer engagement.

According to Mrs Khemka, the creative arts centre represents a major investment in educational facilities, while bringing the historic Ransom Hall back into use will act as a much-needed regeneration boost.

“In light of the recent comprehensive spending review, this ambitious scheme represents a major investment by the college and will ensure we remain ideally placed to meet our communities’ educational and skills needs for the 21st century,” said Mrs Khemka.

“Our longer-term aspiration is to consolidate as much of teaching and learning activity onto Derby Road as possible.  The creative arts centre marks an exciting first step in bringing these plans to fruition.”