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Expansion breathes new life into Phoenix

10 October 2023

Phoenix Cinema and Arts Centre has been the focal point of Leicester’s independent film and digital arts scene for many years. In fact, it celebrates its 60th birthday this month!  Following an £8 million expansion plan, Phoenix is looking to rise higher offering even more to local people and business communities.

outside of cinema building Cafe bar

Cinema, art and learning are the key themes that underline everything Phoenix does. This is the place for art house cinema as well as your multi-million-pound Hollywood blockbusters. Receiving 220,000 visitors each year pre-pandemic, the charity also hosts innovative digital arts exhibitions and education services for adults and young people. It also works with stakeholders, De Montfort University to provide workplace learning opportunities for students.

Based in Phoenix Square since 2009, its Phoenix 2020 expansion project has reconfigured parts of the current premises and importantly added a two-storey 1,200 sq ft extension bringing two further cinemas, a new art gallery, a larger café bar and a green roof terrace for patrons and business/ community events. The main investors in the capital project were Arts Council England and Leicester City Council. Other funders included the LLEP, BFI (British Film Institute) and national charities, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Foyle Foundation. The support of over 300 local people and small businesses was also invaluable to the success of the project.

The Phoenix brand is strong on the independent film and arts scene but what may be less obvious are other Phoenix projects like the REAL initiative which provided a support programme for start-up and established film and arts creators, funded by ERDF, up until June this year. This grassroots development for filmmakers and digital artists is something the centre wants to build on.

John Rance, CEO of Phoenix explained:

“The REAL initiative was a £1.2m ERDF-funded project to support the creative digital sector, which included a capital investment in facilities at Phoenix alongside a business support programme for entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses. Its main goal was to support business growth and start-ups. We hope to continue the programme, in a revised form, in the longer term.”

The investment in Phoenix also means there is a wider variety of meeting and event space including the new green roof terrace which has adjacent meeting rooms. The venue can take up to 200 people for conferences and can also be used for private screenings. There’s also a creative co-working space within the building and around 40 creative businesses renting office space, managed by LCB Depot

Like most small businesses the last few years have been challenging for Phoenix but they are adapting, expanding their offer, innovating in digital art and working hard to bring people back in.

John continued: “Our leisure offer is strong and we are keen to encourage the public to continue to support independent film-makers and creators. We’re also excited to show off our expanded facilities for businesses and organisations and would be more than happy to discuss how we can work together.”

If you are passing Phoenix Square, actually, even if you are not, it’s definitely worth a visit – a unique and special gem in Leicester, for business or pleasure.


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