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Riverside School in Barking aims to put performing arts at estate’s heart with ambition to build £5m venue

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 23 June 2020

Riverside School wants to build a £5million 350 capacity performing arts centre on its campus. Picture: Riverside

Riverside School wants to build a £5million 350 capacity performing arts centre on its campus. Picture: Riverside

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A school is looking to raise £5million to put a performing arts venue at the heart of its community.

Riverside in Renwick Road, Barking has had draft plans drawn up for the centre which includes a stage, rehearsal spaces, an outdoor ampitheatre as well as dedicated classrooms for drama and music.

Headteacher Andy Roberts said: “Riverside students thrive in the arts and music, as well as excelling in the classroom, and as the school grows they need a bespoke space to enable this area of the curriculum to blossom.

“Living in an area of rapid regeneration, they have been forced to use their voice to ensure they shape the future of Barking Riverside for generations to come; the performing arts centre is designed with the community, as much as the school, in mind.

“This is an epic multi-million pound project they are undertaking, but I have total faith in their passion and drive to make it happen.

The venue would include a stage, exhibition space, classrooms and foyer. It would be open to the public for community use at weekends. Picture: RiversideThe venue would include a stage, exhibition space, classrooms and foyer. It would be open to the public for community use at weekends. Picture: Riverside

“Our students do not wait for things to happen to them, they show leadership through positive action to set a course of a preferred future for their community.”

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Pupils at the school, which opened in 2013 and has 1,100 youngsters on roll, currently use a fifth floor dining hall for performances, but that could change if Riverside can secure enough funding.

The school has carried out a feasibility study with drawings completed for the centre which would be built on land near the school’s sports facility. The ground has been checked to make sure it can be built on.

Riverside headteacher Andy Roberts seen here in July 2017 with Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge and Tricia Zipfel following the scooping of an unrelated Big Lottery Fund grant. Picture: MARGARET HODGERiverside headteacher Andy Roberts seen here in July 2017 with Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge and Tricia Zipfel following the scooping of an unrelated Big Lottery Fund grant. Picture: MARGARET HODGE

The idea is for the centre to be available to the public and community groups at weekends with space for an audience of up to 350.

“We want people to enjoy having things to do here, to create a cohesive community,” head of music Søren Ramsing said.

“We would like to be able to host bigger events and bring the high arts to this part of Barking, giving people opportunities they wouldn’t normally have,” he added.

The 11-18 free school is enlisting the help of students, staff and the community who have been invited to share messages of support in videos to build momentum for the scheme ahead of the fundraising push.

Email sora@riverside.bardaglea.org.uk


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