A #12.8 million scheme to transform Birmingham's MAC and Sampad arts complex has won approval.
Supporters of the two organisations are celebrating an Arts Council decision to confirm a #5.4 million grant to rebuild and modernise the popular Cannon Hill Park venue.
Along with a #6.2 million grant from Birmingham City Council and #1.2 million to be raised by the Mac and Sampad, the Arts Council's decision ends years of uncertainty about the ambitious project.
A more extensive redevelopment proposal, costing #18.5 million, collapsed in 2004 when Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency, refused funding. The latest scheme will create a three-storey building connecting all of the existing buildings and house a new, double-height gallery. Work is due to begin in early 2008. The new complex will feature an enlarged and improved bar, cafe, social areas and toilets.
The existing buildings will be reorganised and refurbished to create a pedestrian bridge leading to a new entrance on the riverside; an improved reception and ticket office; a new media studio and an additional education studio; larger non-gallery exhibition spaces; and extra function and meeting rooms.
Anita Bhalla, chairman of MAC, said: "The confirmation of funding is fantastic news for both Mac and Sampad but, most importantly, for the centre’s 500,000 annual visitors.
"This scheme will create an approachable and inclusive development attracting people because of its non-institutional feel and through embracing the widest range of people and cultural traditions.
"This is phase one of a development which may go on to include a second and third phase at a later date. It has been designed in such a way that the things which were removed from the previous scheme, including the 500-seat theatre, could be added later."
MAC will close for up to 18 months while the work is carried out. Ms Bhalla said that it was originally hoped to remain open throughout, but on close examination the additional costs incurred from working around public access could not be justified.
"Both MAC and Sampad will carry on a programme of events on other sites in the city during the closure period," she said.
Although much of the existing building will be retained, Ms Bhalla stressed that the overall appearance of the complex would be transformed: "If there are parts of it you think look like an eyesore today, they won't after this," she said.
AWM's refusal to help fund the scheme reflected Government failure to recognise the importance that a vibrant culture and arts scene can play in urban regeneration, said chief executive of Birmingham City Council Stephen Hughes.
Stephen Hughes said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was currently "really struggling in Government to get the message across".