A local Leicester youth arts charity welcomed HRH The Earl of Wessex to officially open the doors to its new £1.1 million premises.
Prince Edward visited Soft Touch Arts new home during a visit to the city and county on Monday.
During his time at Soft Touch he met with young people who use the centre and saw what facilities are now available to them. The charity which was established in 1986 aims to create brighter futures for disadvantaged young people, using the arts, media and music activities to inspire and engage young people, helping them to develop creative, social and employability skills.
The organisation unveiled the city’s first youth arts centre at 50 New Walk. A number of VIP guests were in attendance.
The charity purchased the building from the City Council in April 2012. In 2013 they were awarded a £616,000 grant from Arts Council England to refurbish the building to create a youth arts and heritage centre. A further £400,000 has been provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Leicester City Council Cultural Services and Youth Service, The Trusthouse Foundation, The Wooden Spoon Charity, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Clothworkers’ Foundation and other smaller trusts and private business donors and the charity’s own fundraising efforts.
Business and Strategic Director of Soft Touch Arts, Christina Wigmore, shared: “We are delighted to welcome The Earl of Wessex to Soft Touch Arts and to be able to reveal our new centre to the public for the first time. It has taken three years of hard work to bring this project to fruition, so we are all excited to be entering a new chapter in the story of Soft Touch Arts.
“Our young volunteers have played a central role in the design process to ensure we have created the facilities and support they need. We know this will have a fantastic impact on the local community and look forward to welcoming more young people to this creative space, as well as offering them an opportunity to get involved with projects that give them a taste of creative enterprise such as organising their own exhibitions and events.”
With the aim to improve its services for local young people, the new larger premises include a healthy eating kitchen, multi-sensory equipment, an exhibition space, a craft and textile room, music rehearsal and recording studios, digital production suites, a stencil art studio and a sculpture garden as well as improved disabled access.
Soft Touch Arts are set to expand its creative projects, which include art and crafts, music, fashion, cooking, film, photography and the performing arts.
Prince Edward also visited West Gate Special School and Loughborough College Arts Academy.
For more information about Soft Touch Arts please visit www.soft-touch.org.uk.