Students Staff

09 February 2009

Curtains up for Clifftown Studios

Southend Campus

East 15 students using the new facilities in the Clifftown Studios

Students from the University of Essex are now using the new facilities at the Clifftown Studios. This follows the completion of the first phase of building work thanks to almost £1.5 million from Southend’s regeneration partnership.

Work began in September last year to refurbish the former Clifftown United Reform Church into the new Clifftown Studios. Built in 1866, this grade II listed building is close the University’s state-of-the-art Gateway Building and complements the University’s existing facilities in Southend by providing new and well resourced space for the teaching, training, rehearsal and performance of East 15 Acting School students.

Already making full use of this new specialist space are BA Acting and Stage Combat students, who now undertake their fencing, broadsword and rapier instruction for this unique and physically demanding course in the Clifftown Studios. The facilities also offer opportunities to local community groups in Southend and promote further ways to learn with the University.

Professor Leon Rubin, Director of East 15 Acting School, explains: ‘Completion of phase one of the Clifftown Studios means we have exciting, world class new facilities in which to train the next generation of actors and performers.’

Theo Steel, Chairman of Renaissance Southend, said: ‘We are delighted that we are able to assist the University of Essex, one of our key partners, achieve funding for this excellent project. We welcome this investment which represents yet another commitment by all those involved in the regeneration of Southend.’

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Regeneration, Councillor John Lamb added: ‘It’s very good to see this first phase finished. They have made a first rate job of it, and we are delighted that the students have now got such suitable premises for their specialist training. This development shows the very positive effects of investment in our town. We look forward to the completion of future phases of this exciting project.’

This development has been made possible as a result of a £990,000 investment by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), through its Investing in Communities programme run by the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership (TGSEP). A further £500, 000 was also granted by the Homes and Communities Agency (previously Department of Communities and Local Government), working with Renaissance Southend Ltd.

Alison Webster, Executive Director of Skills and Economic Participation at EEDA, said: ‘Developing your skills provides a great route into good jobs – especially in difficult economic times like these. Clifftown Studios now offer a great opportunity to do some exciting courses through the University and will give a significant boost to the growing creative sector in the area.’

Work will now begin on phase two of the project, which involves converting the nave into a performance space with seating for up to 200 and innovative lighting and technical facilities. This beautiful and flexible space will be used for student, professional and community performances.


Notes to editors:
The attached picture shows East 15 students using the new facilities provided by completion of the first phase of the Clifftown Studios.

For more information, please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on telephone: 01206 872807 or e-mail:

EEDA has supported the development of the University of Essex’s presence in Southend since 2003 and, during this period, has provided over £5 million of its own funds. It has also managed the leverage of £14 million of ODPM funding to develop phase one of the Southend Campus. This includes £0.5 million to help establish a strong University presence including an iLab at Princess Caroline House in 2004, before the Gateway Building was developed, £3.7 million for the purchase of the Odeon Theatre site and a further £0.5 million funding for the Gateway Building.

EEDA's latest investment is a £960,000 contribution, through Economic Participation funding to the Thames Gateway, towards the renovation of Clifftown United Reformed Church into the new Clifftown Studios.

For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on telephone: 01206 872807 or e-mail:

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