CONTRACTORS are putting the finishing touches to Sefton’s new flagship arts centre before its opening in May.
The £17m Atkinson will launch with an eclectic performance programme after more than two years of closure for redevelopment.
Incorporating four established venues – Southport Arts Centre, the Atkinson Art Gallery, Botanic Gardens Museum and the town’s Central Library – it will act as a single cultural hub on Lord Street.
A new section has been added to the Grade II-listed 1874 building, increasing its floorspace by one third.
John Taylor, Sefton’s arts and cultural services manager, said: “The oldest part of the building has survived very well over the years and it fits in well with the new development.
“I think people will be very proud of it and enjoy visiting.
“We don’t want to compete with venues in Liverpool and Manchester but to complement them.”
The Atkinson will be reopened in a number of stages over two years, beginning with the former Southport Arts Centre section and library on May 3.
Housing a 320-seater studio, a 440 capacity main theatre, a new ground floor cafe and foyer area, it will launch with the annual Southport Jazz Festival.
Visitors will be able to enter the first floor art gallery from this summer, where four rooms will display items of sculpture, painting and arts and crafts from the Atkinson’s 3,000-strong collection.