A BRIDPORT arts venue has received a “marvellous” grant of more than £340,000 to improve facilities.

Arts Council England will invest £344,200 towards essential works at Bridport Arts Centre. Staff at the venue applied to the Arts Council in October for support to refurbish the foyer, bar and café and upgrade the auditorium and stage areas – as well as investing in technical equipment.

Part of the funding will go towards upgrades including secondary glazing for the fragile original windows, which date back to 1838.

The building will also be made more accessible by installing an automated front door, as well as a hearing loop at the box office.

Barry Bates, chairman of Bridport Arts Centre trustees, said: “This is a marvellous success for Bridport Arts Centre.  

“We will be able to offer our users a much improved experience from the new foyer, café and bar to the revamped Marlow Theatre. The decision by Arts Council England is a recognition at national level of the great potential of the arts centre and our track record of offering excellent and varied arts experiences. 

“Congratulations are due to our director Laura Cockett who has worked so hard to write the submission and thanks to fellow trustee Robert Wheelwright whose work on the designs and plans has been so invaluable.”

A condition of the Arts Council’s investment is that £230,000 is needed to match their contribution. Bridport Arts Centre has already secured £100,000 but there is still some way to go to raise funds to deliver the renovations.

Director Laura Cockett said: "We are delighted to receive this investment from the Arts Council however we have still to secure all of the matched funding required and will be launching the final push to secure the remaining money. 

“There will be a public appeal soon to let people know how they can support this exciting chapter in Bridport Arts Centre’s history.”

Full details will be provided to the public as the plans are finalised, but it is anticipated the cafe and gallery will close from mid June with events in the theatre unaffected until the end of July - with the whole building closed for August. 

Phil Gibby, area director South West for Arts Council England, said: "This award will help Bridport Arts Centre carry out essential work as well as modernising their facilities and make the building more sustainable. 

"By investing £344,200 through our National Lottery-funded capital programme, we are helping to secure a more resilient future for the organisation and access to high quality arts experiences for Bridport."