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Beacon Arts Centre - a Beacon of Light on the Greenock Waterfront

Beacon Arts Centre

Beacon Arts Centre is one of the finest new arts venues in the UK, putting on exhibitions, live performance, live broadcast, classes in drama, dance, musical theatre and much more.

In this Connecting feature, Artistic Director and CEO Julie Ellen tells us more about the history of the arts centre, what's on offer and its plans for the future.

Where’d it all begin? 

In January 2013 the Beacon Arts Centre opened its doors as the new home of the Greenock Arts Guild, which has provided a hub for community theatre and arts activities for the people of Inverclyde since 1947. By the late 2000s it had become clear that its existing building was no longer fit for purpose and the search began for a suitable alternative. The Beacon is the result; a state of the art facility that forms an important part of the Scottish theatre scene with a full schedule of local performances and touring productions. The Beacon is not only significant because of its artistic impact, but because it is part of the process to regenerate the waterfront in Greenock.

  • Beacon Arts Centre auditorium  
  • Beacon Arts Centre Foyer  
  • Beacon Arts Centre Exhibition Space  
  • The Beacon Arts Centre  
     

    The new building has an exceptional technical infrastructure. How are you using this in theatre and live television broadcasts?

    Outside Broadcast Units can park along-side the Beacon in our secure yard and connect, using our cable portholes, directly into the communications and control systems to both our performance spaces. This massively reduces the time and, most importantly, the amount of cable needed to deliver an outside broadcast or digital recording of a performance. The first televised Referendum public debate was broadcast from the Beacon.

    Coming up to your second year anniversary, what have been your most memorable performances?

    Three stand out for me. Jack and the Beanstalk was Greenock’s first professional Pantomime and building delays meant we had to wait an additional year to produce it. I was absolutely delighted with the audience response. All my Christmas wishes came true with over 10,500 people clearly having had a great time!

    Another landmark moment was the First Beam of Light community celebration of the Beacon’s opening. The very first Beacon Youth Dance performance was beautiful; thought provoking and moving. The fledgling company, newly formed from individuals who had taken part in a series of taster classes, are a perfect example of how, with good support, complete beginners can achieve exceptional creative expression in performance.

    Iron Oxide’s White Gold resulted from our collaboration with them and Inverclyde community groups. Site specific to the Sugar Sheds it was packed out, and one of the highlights of the Commonwealth Cultural Programme.

    How can people get involved in the arts centre?

    In addition to our lively performance programme and exhibitions, we offer classes in drama, dance, musical theatre and well-being classes such as yoga and Pilates. These are offered to people as young as 16 months and our oldest participant is a member of our Platinum Dance group who is in her later 70’s. 120 young people take part in Beacon Youth Theatre each week and Beacon Youth Dance have already performed at national dance events and taken part in the Commonwealth Culture programme’s international celebration of dance. To get involved just get in touch

    What are your plans for the future?

    We have enjoyed fantastic support from audiences with more than 46,500 tickets sold in our first year and extraordinary levels of participation in classes and community events. Our plans for the future include launching a new series of volunteer activities such as forming a Beacon Youth Technical group, expanding our range of community performance opportunities, sustaining our broad performance programme and increasing the number of conference and social events in our beautiful facilities. We would also like to add cinema presentations of arts events to our programme so we can offer performances on all the nights our audiences want to see them. The focus for the next year will be telling more people about what we have on offer; around 200 performances a year, the participation programme and our seven day a week Bistro service all enjoying spectacular views, right beside the river.

    More Info

    To find out more about the Beacon Arts Centre and their work, visit their website, follow them on Twitter @thebeaconarts and find them on facebook/BeaconArtsCentre.

    Beacon Arts Centre is one of 119 organisations receiving Regular Funding from Creative Scotland across 2015-18.

    This article was published on 09 Dec 2014