Kent secures £4m in funding to bring creative hub in Medway to life

Katherine Moss
The Docking Station (CGI) by FCBStudios

Work on the new home for Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries at the Historic Dockyard Chatham has been given a major boost with almost £4m of funding.

The Docking Station project – led by the University of Kent in partnership with Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Medway Council – will see the Police Section House converted into a flagship building designed to support the development of the digital creative sector in Medway and the Southeast.

Following the recent announcement from the Minister for Arts & Heritage, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay of £3.5m in funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Cultural Development Fund, the project has just received a further boost from the National Lottery Heritage Fund with development funding of £375,000.

While the DCMS funding will help pay the costs of the renovation to the building – owned by Homes England – the NLHF award is the first step in an exciting community engagement and heritage activity plan that will engage a range of audiences with a wide range of digital arts and heritage activities at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham and around Medway.

The programme will also involve a close collaboration with partners at Medway Council to connect to local services including the Library Service and Medway Adult Education to enrich existing, and create new, programmes and activities ensuring that diverse local communities engage with the project and benefit from access to these new digital creative technologies.

The funding will also help research the heritage of the Police Section House and its role within the Royal Dockyard and create new digital assets for use in a range of settings to showcase the new immersive digital technologies that will be available at Docking Station.

The team will follow up this success with an application later this year for delivery funding of a further £3.5M.

These awards are on top of the £5.6m already received from the Government as part of Medway Council’s successful Round 1 Levelling Up Fund bid, and will help develop a new digital creative innovation hub in the heart of Medway. The centre will bring together state-of-the-art commercial digital production studios, support for local businesses, new education and training opportunities and a public programme of events and activities on the same site.

The facility will open in 2025 and is intended to become a focal point for creative activity in Medway, with an immersive digital studio space, café, gallery and exhibition spaces, plus teaching areas and facilities to support start-up enterprises. It will also house a suite of commercial digital production studios for industry use.

Professor Catherine Richardson, Director of the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, said: ‘Creative Industries are so important for our region – this sector is outgrowing others and generating large numbers of jobs, and it has such a strong impact on educational attainment, health and wellbeing. We also know how significant creative work is to the pride we feel in our communities, and for all these reasons it’s at the centre of the University of Kent’s commitment to its civic mission. The Docking Station is a vital piece of that work – we’re delighted to be able to take it to the next stage.’