Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Farry announces new Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre for Bangor

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Employment and Learning

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry officially announced the plans for the development of a new £12million Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre (PATIC) at the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) in Bangor.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to be able to announce that I have secured the necessary funding for this project to proceed. My Department remains fully committed to the further development of the Further Education (FE) sector infrastructure. This development builds on the recent new campuses in Lisburn, Downpatrick and Newtownards which can offer local companies the benefits of the FE sector’s expertise, from prototyping and testing to offering incubation facilities or developing bespoke training solutions. 

“In the last few years Northern Ireland has become a major location of choice for the film industry and we have had the international success of some notable local artists. This new facility will provide a launch pad for more aspiring performers and I look forward to the opening of the new theatre and learning facility in 2015. The development of a 350 seat theatre will be of significant value to both students and the wider community.

“The Technology Innovation Centre will also deliver teaching facilities and offer learners a business quality learning environment that will further enhance the College’s existing capacity for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology and Engineering sciences. ”

The new multi-million pound 3,650m² facility will provide high specification, bespoke accommodation for the Schools of Performing and Creative Arts, Manufacturing and Electrical Engineering and Computer and Software Engineering on the Glenlola site opposite the main Bangor campus of the South Eastern Regional College.

Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of South Eastern Regional College, said: “We are delighted to announce the development of a new technology, innovation and performing arts facility which will serve business and industry with state of the art equipment and cutting edge services. The only performing arts venue in the North Down area, the centre will provide an innovative curriculum to fill the well recorded technical skills gaps which are needed to drive the industry forward.

“The investment is not just about a building, it is also about investing in people and forms part of the college’s commitment to provide first class facilities to students and the provision of skills training is at the heart of this. Upon completion the centre will deliver economic prosperity through services such as product prototyping and high spec testing.”

The Mayor for North Down, Andrew Muir said: “Planned investment by the Department for Employment and Learning and SERC is great news for people across North Down and beyond offering a new space to improve skills and opening up the option of community usage of this Theatre style venue. The Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre (PATIC) will help to build a creative, innovative, skills rich Borough which retains and attracts talent. I look forward to working with SERC to help realise the full potential of this fantastic investment for everyone. By working as one we can grow our economy together, enabling people and businesses to thrive rather than merely survive.”

Funded by the Department for Employment and Learning, the heart of the Performing Arts Centre will be the Theatre around which rehearsal and production studios should be located. In addition to being suitable for staging professional productions it will provide first class rehearsal, recording and performance facilities for the students of Bangor and the surrounding area. The rehearsal space will accommodate acting, dance, music and DJ teaching and be equipped with the relevant listening, PA and backline facilities. 

The focus of the Technology Innovation Centre will be to enhance the employability skills of its students, stimulate enterprise through business incubation and delivery of innovative business development programmes, and foster enhanced approaches to economic development working closely with community partners. 

Notes to editors: 

1. The construction of the PATIC will be undertaken in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years. This would allow the facility to become operational for the 2015/16 academic year (1st August 2015).
2. See photos relating to this story on the Department for Employment and Learning’s Flickr collection at http://www.flickr.com/photos/niexecutive/sets/72157636897842233/. Caption: Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry officially announced the plans for the development of a new £12 million Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre (PATIC) at the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) in Bangor. Pictured with the Minister are Ken Webb, SERC Principal and Chief Executive and Mayor for North Down, Andrew Muir.

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