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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
ArtRochdale's Touchstones redevelopment plans approved

Rochdale’s Touchstones redevelopment plans approved

A green light has been given to ambitious redevelopment plans for Touchstones, an arts and heritage venue in Rochdale.

The transformative project, scheduled to commence this spring, is made possible through funding from the Cultural Development Fund, a DCMS fund administered by Arts Council England and Rochdale Council.

The total investment in arts and culture across the borough amounts to £8.5 million.

Touchstones attained the prestigious status of being one of Arts Council England’s ‘National Portfolio Organisations’ in 2023.

Dynamic hub

The approved plans envision the conversion of Touchstones into a dynamic creative and cultural hub, featuring new adaptable performance and production spaces for artists, enhanced training areas, and improved spaces for live events and exhibitions.

The redevelopment also includes the creation of a novel dining space, merging the theme of food with the borough’s collections.

This collaborative initiative with Rochdale’s diverse communities has received an additional grant of just under £250,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Dubbed ‘The Dining Room,’ the project involves three commissioned artists working with 20 community curators to craft a new museum space.

The anticipated reopening in 2025 will showcase collaborations with Tate and the National Gallery, along with a reimagining of Harry Meadley’s 2022 exhibition Free-For-All.

Essential improvements

Apart from the cultural enhancements, the redevelopment project encompasses essential improvements to the building’s accessibility and sustainability. The collaboration for this endeavor involves Rochdale Borough Council, YourTrust (operators of Touchstones as the council’s culture and leisure partner), and Rochdale Development Agency (RDA), which leads regeneration efforts, including culture and placemaking on behalf of the council.

In the upcoming months, the appointment of a main contractor is expected, with Hive Projects from the North-west leading project management.

The architectural aspect is overseen by Architectural Emporium, heritage architect BB Heritage Studio, and landscape architect Gillespies. Sutcliffe, Identity Consult, and Steven Hunt & Associates are handling structural, civil engineering, quantity surveyor, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering aspects, respectively. Jenson Hughes is providing expertise as the fire consultant.

The Touchstones redevelopment is a pivotal component in establishing a creative district in Rochdale town centre. This initiative encompasses the refurbishment of Rochdale Town Hall, the creation of a new town hall square, the Fire Up digital and creative co-working space, new artist workspaces on Richard Street, and the introduction of new public art, signage, and marketing.

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