AN ARTS centre has reopened its doors following a major refurbishment over the summer.

Bridport Arts Centre undertook the work after receiving funding from various organisations including the Arts Council. The building was labelled "not fit for purpose" by director Laura Cockett earlier this year.

The arts centre now boasts a new box office area including a more open space with a new accessible height counter and hearing loop. Throughout the building, new signage has been installed with graphics to help those who may struggle with traditional text based signs.

The arts centre's bar is now bigger. The café has moved from the former Wesleyan chapel schoolroom. It is still located in what was the old school house, but is now on the left hand side of the building. Visitors will now be able to enjoy a more extensive menu, thanks to a bigger kitchen.

The new café menu will feature freshly cooked, locally sourced food, including a seasonal set lunch menu. Kieran James is now at the helm, along with his wife Bernice, and they are joined by long-term staff member Denise Buchanan.

Mr James' Dorset Market Kitchen has been a regular sight at Bridport Market and special events such as Bridport Christmas Cheer and the Melplash Show.

He said: "I am so excited to be finally opening the doors.

"It has been my dream to be able to run my own café bar and to have the opportunity to be a part of such a fantastic venue is great. I know how important the arts centre and the café is to the people of Bridport so I hope everyone is pleased with the changes.

"While some things will be different, I’m delighted that Denise will be joining me so you can rely on the same friendly welcome that you would expect at the arts centre."

Much of the £444,000 investment has gone towards technical equipment in the theatre to improve the quality of the performances, as well as making the building more environmentally sustainable by installing photovoltaic panels on the roof.

The arts centre trust received funding from the Arts Council, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Bridport Town Council - as well as further funds from trusts and foundations.

Ms Cockett said: "None of the changes would have been possible without the support of the people of Bridport.

"A huge amount of the money has been donated by local individuals and this generosity has made all of the difference - thank you."

The relaunched arts centre programme features The Archers’ Sunny Ormonde, who portrays Lilian Bellamy, and her one woman show tomorrow (23) and the acclaimed Cloudbusting - a Kate Bush tribute band performing on Saturday (24) night. In the gallery, the Beyond The Page exhibition will open on Saturday.