Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 16:57 UK

Work starts on 12m dance centre

An artist's impression of the new building
The building is expected to be finished in summer 2010

Building work has started on a £12m dance centre in Leeds.

The building, at Quarry Hill next to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, has been described as the largest purpose-built space for dance outside London.

It will be the new headquarters of the Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT) and Phoenix Dance Theatre.

As the first ground was broken at the site on Monday, the companies revealed that all but £500,000 of the funding needed had been secured.

The centre is being paid for with £10.7m from Leeds City Council, regional development agency Yorkshire Forward and the lottery-funded Arts Council.

'Nomadic existence'

The NBT and Phoenix Dance Theatre have to find the remaining £1.5m needed for the project and said £1m had already been raised through public donations.

Leeds Metropolitan University and the city's Grand Theatre are among the contributors.

The university's performing arts degree courses will take place in the building.

NBT chief executive Mark Skipper said: "NBT has had a nomadic existence.

"We moved from Manchester, where the company was founded in 1969, to Halifax and finally to Leeds.

"Our current headquarters in West Park were intended as temporary accommodation with a view always to creating a purpose-built home for the company.

"We can hardly believe we have reached the point where work is starting on site."

The new building will include a 230-seat studio theatre where public performances will take place, seven dance studios for training and public classes, a public gallery space, a cafe and meeting rooms.

It is expected to be completed in summer 2010.

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