Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today officially announced the commencement of the construction phase for the development of a new £12million Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre (PATIC) at the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) in Bangor.
Speaking during the sod-cutting ceremony at the site on the Castle Park Road, the Minister said: “I am pleased to be cutting the first sod for this new building. Engineering, ICT and creative industries remain priority skill sectors for our economy and this facility will provide students from Bangor and further afield with the most up to date learning environment.”
The new 3,650 m² facility, funded by the Department for Employment and Learning will provide high specification, bespoke accommodation for the Schools of Manufacturing and Electrical Engineering, Computer and Software Engineering and Performing and Creative Arts centred on a 350 seat theatre including 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 will be equipped with the relevant state of the art listening, PA and backline facilities.
The Minister continued: “The Technology Innovation Centre will deliver teaching facilities that build upon the College’s expertise in the emergent fields of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology and Engineering sciences. It will also offer access for local companies to benefit from the FE sector’s expertise in prototyping and product testing and the opportunity to develop bespoke training solutions.
“The performing arts facilities will help to provide the trained staff for the creative sector in Northern Ireland – a sector where Northern Ireland is already making its mark and has the potential to do so much more.
“This development will not only provide a new theatre and learning facility for the College students but be an asset for the local community.
“The need for a theatre in Bangor has been well established and this development will be of significant value to both students and the wider community. I look forward to the opening of the new theatre and learning facility in 2015.”
Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of South Eastern Regional College, said: “This commemorative event marks the main construction phase of the new £12million Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre which will serve individuals and industry with state of the art equipment and cutting edge services. The Centre will provide an innovative curriculum to fill the well recorded technical skills gaps which are needed to drive the industry forward. The completed Centre will attract 400 new full-time students and provide a range of part-time courses. Its development will sustain over 100 jobs in the construction industry.”
The focus of the 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.
The development will sustain over 100 jobs in the construction industry during the construction phase.
Notes to editors:
1. The construction of the PATIC will be undertaken in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years. The facility will become operational for the 2015/16 academic year (1st August 2015).
2. The Award of Contract was issued on the 19 February 2014 to the Newry based construction company O’Hare & McGovern who have previous experience in the development of Further Education facilities.
3. See architectural plans and drawings for PATIC on the Department for Employment and Learning’s Flickr collection at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/niexecutive/sets/72157636897842233/with/10455906383.