In 2009 Leicester saw Phoenix’s first re-incarnation (or rising from the ashes if you will), moving from Newarke Street and breathing new life into the Cultural Quarter alongside Curve and the LCB. I sat down with CEO John Rance to talk about their ambitious next step in Phoenix’s development. John explained that the project has three major objectives:

“There are times when Phoenix is very busy and this growth in participation has been very encouraging. We want to reach more people and we want to reach a greater diversity of people. One of the issues is that with with limited cultural programming spaces there is less space for experimentation and to reach out to new communities – so physical space is actually limiting our cultural ambition.”

As a charity Phoenix is subsidised by public funding. Ideally it would find itself in a more self sustaining position, therefore the project’s second aim is:

“…to earn more money. Like many arts organisations we’re challenged by public sector funding cuts. A lot of our income comes from the cafe, room hire, cinema tickets and advertising. Our modelling shows this will plateau because there’s only so many people you can engage in a cinema programme with just two screens. By adding two more cinema screens, The development will help us to earn more money and as a charity we will re-invest that back into Phoenix and what we do.”

So with more audience comes more income and with more income Phoenix can invest in its arts engagement and programme:

“Phoenix 2020 is about cultural ambition. People have commented that the film programme already encompasses an awful lot in two screens, yet it doesn’t fully reflect where we want to be. With the new build,  we will be able to offer a wider variety of film and do more of the work we want to do supporting artists and filmmakers. For example, summer is the time when we focus more on talent development and so this is when  we’d like to develop more festivals – we’ve got Short Cinema coming up soon, and we want to see that grow.”

The physical attributes of this project include a large extension that will encompass two new screens, allowing for more screenings and more cinematic variety. It will also include a roof terrace area for customers and events, as well as a much larger gallery space:

“The curatorial theme of the current digital arts programme is the impact of technology on society and that is a subject that is not going away. I don’t foresee any change in curatorial style, but the new gallery will allow us to be more ambitious, with a shift in scale. We will also be able to receive touring work.”

As planning continues on Phoenix 2020 the organisation is keen to hear your thoughts and gain your support. For ways to engage with the project or donate go to

Image is an artists impression.


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