Pocklington Arts Centre have announced today (Thursday) that they have received funding to make significant accessibility improvements to their auditorium.
The East Yorkshire venue have received funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will include an upgrade to the existing seating – with a new demountable seating system to be installed.
The new seating system will see an improvement in comfort, an opportunity for a flexible space for different types of performance, and will greatly improve access for wheelchair users and those with mobility limitations.
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is administered by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
It will also include the installation of handrails to offer better support when using the stairs to move around the auditorium, and the scheme will allow for an improved usage of the back row area to accommodate up to four wheelchairs with designated companion spaces.
For wheelchair users and those with mobility restrictions performing on stage at the venue, the new plans will include the installation of a stair-lift to the back-stage area to make accessibility much more adaptable – this is expected to be complete by mid-2024.
Lynn Drury, who is a member of Pocklington Arts Centre’s Forgotten Voices community choir, had felt frustrated at being unable to easily access the stage as a performer alongside her fellow choir members.
“I have been campaigning for accessibility improvements to make the performance area more inclusive for those of us who are restricted in getting to the stage due to every direction being reliant on stairs to get on and off,” said Lynn.
“On a good day, I can be assisted, but on a bad day the extra physical effort required can leave me in pain for days. I am so looking forward to these improvements and know that many people in my position will benefit from this.”
If you’re a regular visitor to Pockington Arts Centre who likes to book your favourite seat position – don’t worry, as the current seating configuration will remain unchanged.
The staff and volunteers at the venue wish to respect the heritage of the existing seating, and a bank of three seats will be retained and other seats may be re-utilised elsewhere.
Other improvements will include the replacement of carpeting, decoration and the installation of LED house lights to improve energy efficiency and light quality.
The majority of the building work will commence in January 2024, with preparations for the work scheduled from Monday 18 December.
It is anticipated that there may be around 180 seats available for collectors to purchase by donation – anyone interested should contact the Pocklington Arts Centre box office. Any funds received through the sale or auction of these seats will be reinvested in the Arts Centre for ongoing maintenance and improvements.
A ‘sponsor a seat’ campaign is being launched this Friday (15 December), which will offer patrons the opportunity to have their name fixed to the seat for the planned unveiling during February 2024.