THE MEMORY of a much-loved arts centre will be kept alive when its seats are installed in a majestic new development.
Around 300 seats taken from the former Darlington Arts Centre, which closed in 2012, will be used in the refurbishment of the town’s former Majestic cinema.
The striking art-deco building on Bondgate is currently being revamped by a team led by North-East property developer Devlin Hunter.
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The team hope to transform the building, which was a cinema in the 1940s and a snooker club in the 1980s, into a multi-purpose venue that will serve the community in a variety of ways.
Its ground floor is currently being converted into the Bing Bong soft play facility, set to open this summer, while developers hope to turn the upper floors into a theatre and restaurant by 2015.
The team approached Darlington Borough Council in a bid to buy the arts centre seats but were left disappointed when they were unable to afford the initial asking price.
The council’s leader, Councillor Bill Dixon, negotiated a more favourable rate on the group’s behalf.
He said: “I got to a figure I’m able to defend to auditors and we were able to offer the seats at a price lower than the market value.
“I’m more than happy to do that as those people have done a fantastic job of revamping the place so far and anything we can do to help them, we should do.
“We can’t just give things away but we’ve priced it so they can afford it and we’ve asked if they’ll consider running charity events there, in aid of places like the Dogs Trust and St Teresa’s Hospice, so that the wider community benefits.”
Lee Addison, who works alongside the team restoring The Majestic and runs ‘The Majestic, The Future’ Facebook page, said: “The initial price was totally out of reach but now we can afford it which is tremendous and helps us to move forward.
“It’s a shame the arts centre closed but we hope we can keep its memory alive by using their seats.
“We hope we can bring it back to life, in a way, by reviving this end of town and holding a lot of different events.”
He added: “The public support has been tremendous and everyone’s saying how much they’re looking forward to it opening.”