Drama students’ space is saved

An artist's impression of the new pre-school building.
An artist's impression of the new pre-school building.

Drama students who feared they were to lose their theatre space as a result of major rebuilding work at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus have been told they can help design a new workspace.

Students held a protest and met with staff on campus last week after hearing that their current theatre space, the Black Box, was to be demolished to make way for a new teaching block.

However, they have now been told a new space will be built, which they will be asked for input into to ensure it meets their requirements.

Third year student Martin Wigham, 21, said: “There had been a lack of communication between students and the board but we have now been told they are building a new space.

“They are putting £185,000 into renovating that new space to make it fit for purpose.

“It’s a massive shame for me that there wasn’t any consultation with the students.

“However, I feel that if the new space can be delivered, which they have guaranteed, it will be good for the course.”
The Black Box is being knocked down in September, with the new building due to be ready for the next intake of students this autumn.

A University of Cumbria spokesman said: “As part of university-wide plans, including significant investment to further enhance facilities for students across our campuses, work at our Lancaster campus in Bowerham Road will begin this summer.

“Following on from consultation with staff, students and the wider public, our Lancaster masterplan will see the development of a new teaching block and the removal of poor-quality accommodation on campus. These estates developments will enable the planned relocation of drama to Carlisle with effect from September 2016.

“In the meantime the positive experience of our current Lancaster-based drama students is paramount and we are fully committed to supporting them and ensuring provision of appropriate facilities throughout the period.

“Sufficient funding has been set aside to ensure continuity for the remainder of their course. This includes remodelling and utilising spaces in more modern Lancaster campus buildings, which will take place over the summer break in time of the new term in September.

“Students based in Lancaster will also continue to benefit from using the facilities at the Dukes and the Grand Theatres in Lancaster.

“We will of course continue to work closely with Students’ Union and student representatives of the drama course to ensure the student experience remains a wholly positive one.”

Meanwhile, a new purpose-built pre-school building is to be built at the University Of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus.

Planning permission has been obtained to construct a new 80-place facility for children aged two to four.

The facility has been funded by a grant from Lancashire County Council and private investment from the nursery provider/manager Philippa Perks. Mrs Perks said: “We are delighted with the new building. However, this project would not have got off the ground without the support of parents, staff and the professionals involved.”

Building works will begin at the start of May and will be completed in October.