Arts centre to become Nightingale court

The Lowry in Salford has agreed terms with the Ministry of Justice to house a temporary court space.

Venue management said that the deal, which comes into operation from Monday 28 September, will provide a much needed source of income for the art gallery and theatre “while social distancing measures make theatre performances economically challenging”.

It will also help the Government alleviate the pressure on courts and tribunals resulting from the pandemic, with judges based at The Lowry hearing civil, family and tribunal work as well as criminal cases.

The Lowry is the first arts centre in the country to have secured a contract as a temporary court and the income should help ensure the organisation’s survival.

Julia Fawcett, chief executive of The Lowry, said: “Like arts venues up and down the country, we simply cannot operate our building as normal in the current climate. And with no regular source of income since March, this partnership provides vital funds to enable us to relaunch our programme.”

The MOJ partnership supports the venue’s plans for Christmas – with performances of musical SIX and The Gruffalo set to go ahead in the venue’s Lyric Theatre, which does not form part of this partnership. The galleries will also reopen at weekends from 1 November, when the court will not be sitting.

In July, the former magistrates court in Fleetwood was one of the first 10 Nightingale courts announced. The latest additions also include hotels in York and Middlesbrough as the national backlog of cases builds up. A further five venues are to be announced, including locations in Chester and Liverpool.

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