Our Levelling Up Project
In January 2023, Bexhill heard the amazing news that it had been awarded £19m from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
You can read our press release here.
The bid is published on the Rother District Council website. You can find it on this link here.
The Levelling Up Fund (LUF) bid is titled Community, Creativity and Skills and was made by Rother District Council for the benefit of Bexhill and Sidley.
LUF is a very specific fund that needed projects that satisfied specific criteria. This meant that the projects had to be well-developed and in the scope of Rother’s authority e.g Pot holes in roads could not be included as they come under the authority of East Sussex County Council. In short, the money is for building works to unlock creativity and skills and cannot be spent on other things such as subsidising day to day activities. This means that the rising cost of living and energy prices remain as big a challenge to the Pavilion and Heart of Sidley as they do to everyone.
All ideas and projects within the bid had been developed through continuous and consultation and surveys with the community for a number of years.
Sidley will receive £2m to build a community hub at the Sidley recreation ground. It will be multipurpose, respond to the needs of the community and therefore include a café, changing places facilities, sports changing rooms and improvements to the outside area.
DLWP is getting £17m towards a larger project that we still have to fundraise for. Responding to the ambitions of the Pavilion and our audience surveys, it will do the following:
- Improve and make visitor facilities more accessible
- Open up and add to the existing learning and community facilities and spaces
- Open up spaces for commercial conferences and events to support local businesses
- Refurbish key spaces such as the auditorium and technical facilities and improve the galleries
- Address continuing issues with some of the most vulnerable and historically significant parts of the building, such as the south staircase window, whilst helping to meet the council’s net carbon neutral ambitions.
Sidley is in the top 1% of most deprived areas in the UK with a lower than average GVA (the government’s measure of productivity and economic output). Life expectancy in Sidley and in Bexhill Central Ward (where DLWP is situated) is 7 years less than other areas in the locality. Both wards have below than average mean earnings which is why there is so much emphasis in the bid on growing skills, training and jobs. Both developments will respond to the needs of the community in terms of job opportunities for young people, health and well-being and connecting the community through creativity and learning new skills.
We can all see that the fabric of the pavilion is in need of some love, and that some areas such as the auditorium have never had proper investment since it was built. The 2005 refurbishment was specified at £18m, but delivered for c.£8m and so was compromised in terms of what was delivered in terms of the fabric of the building. It has also been long recognised that community spaces are limited and ‘hidden round the back’, there is a lack of bars and toilets, and our teams are fighting widespread roof leaks across the site, etc.
We receive regular funding from Rother District Council and Arts Council England to provide specific services to our community centered around arts, culture and entertainment. This is around £1m per year, with which we generate a further £3m per annum through our activities giving rise to local employment (around 120 staff), supporting local suppliers & trades, and of course artists, educationalists and freelancers. We also play a role in local inward investment of government funds (Beeching Road, Levelling Up Fund), the music service and tourism.
We have received previous funding for air handling and a technical upgrade to the auditorium, which form steps towards the larger masterplan.
During covid we received Culture Recovery Funding like any other organisations like us to ensure that we could survive the pandemic and the employment of our teams.