A LEADING art gallery is set to invest almost £600,000 in replacing its lighting... and more than £100,000 in its cinema.

Colchester’s Firstsite gallery has been awarded nearly £700,000 by the Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme which is helping to kickstart the works.

It will allow the cultural centre and art gallery in Lewis Gardens to transform a number of aspects within its iconic building.

The venue has stated it will spend £582,175 on replacing all its existing light fittings with LED equivalents in a bid to dramatically cut its carbon footprint from energy used by a staggering 68 per cent.

Director Sally Shaw explained: “The new lighting alone will improve our sustainability and reduce electricity costs by £41,000 annually.

Gazette: Venue - Firstsite galleryVenue - Firstsite gallery

“Our new lighting system will ensure our public spaces are fully visually accessible, and will allow us the flexibility and precision to best present our amazing exhibitions, lighting all artworks effectively.”

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Firstsite’s cinema, which shows a wide range of films and theatre, will benefit from an investment of almost £110,000 in the form of new projection equipment and upgrades to the sound system.

Gallery leaders added they have ambitious plans to start broadcasting livestreamed events from the space, allowing audiences to enjoy all events from wherever they are in the world.

The floor in the studios are set to replaced after ten years of wear and tear, while nearby 15 Queen Street, which Firstsite owns, will be given some much needed TLC.

Gazette: Leader - Firstsite director Sally ShawLeader - Firstsite director Sally Shaw

The building, which is used by community groups and offers an important location for Refugee Action Colchester, will receive both interior and exterior refurbishment and repairs.

Hearing loop facilities are also due to be installed in the gallery’s meeting rooms and studios.

Ms Shaw added: “Thanks to this generous funding, we can begin a series of improvements that will have a major impact on Firstsite’s operating model.

“It will help us to reduce our carbon emissions and dramatically improve both the quality and accessibility of our spaces for everyone in our community.

“These exciting enhancements will also ensure we are fit for purpose in a post-Covid world.”

Ingleton Wood, a Colchester-based property and construction consultancy, supported Firstsite with the funding application bid.

Wesley Henderson, director and building services engineer at the firm, said: “We are thrilled to have helped Firstsite receive significant funding to reshape its sustainable future.

 “The new LED lighting system in particular will play a major role in future-proofing the much-loved community venue whilst reducing its carbon footprint."