AMBITIOUS plans for a new community theatre space in Renfrewshire have taken a huge step forward, thanks to a £250,000 windfall.

PACE Theatre Company is transforming the old Mannequins nightclub in Paisley into a hub, to be known as Exchange, where creativity can flourish.

Now the project has banked £200,000 from The Garfield Weston Foundation, one of the UK's major supporters of the arts, and £50,000 from The Robert Barr Charitable Foundation.

The new children and young people's theatre will host in-house and touring theatre productions, as well as offer a wide programme of creative learning opportunities.

Grant Mason, chief executive at PACE, told The Gazette: "We are extremely grateful for these generous awards from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Robert Barr Charitable Foundation in support of our vision to provide life-changing opportunities for young people and the local community. 

"These grants are a major boost to our plans for Exchange, which we believe has the potential to create a vibrant cultural landmark and community hub for Paisley."

The Gazette:

As well as the main theatre, Exchange will also host a small-scale 80-100-seat flexible studio theatre and creative learning space, plus a community creative play and workshop space. 

There will also be a family-friendly café and bar with informal performance area, dressing rooms, reading snug, and exhibition space for young visual artists.

The space will be fully accessible, autism-friendly, and co-designed and developed at every stage with a group of ‘Young Architects’.

Sustainability is a key priority for the project, designed with the aim of creating a green, carbon neutral, theatre for the future that's financially and environmentally sustainable with 100% LED theatre fixtures.

It is expected that phase two of the project will be complete by December 2022, but PACE are calling on businesses and individuals to support the project by donating to their Million Pound Wall campaign, to reach the fundraising total required to complete the third and final phase of work. 

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