Arts hub's crowdfunding bid for disabled facilities

The Old Courts' team
The Old Courts' team

A Wigan town centre arts hub has launched a crowdfunding bid to help improve the disabled facilities at its historic building.


The Old Courts is turning to the borough’s culture enthusiasts to raise enough money to install toilets which are wheelchair-friendly and accessible for people with disabilities at the Crawford Street venue.


A section of the facility near the downstairs Bailiff Bar will be transformed into suitable washroom facilities ensuring everyone is able to enjoy live music, theatre, poetry as well as films and the visual arts.


The venue is determined to complete the project in memory of Wigan Folk Club stalwart Joan Blackburn, who was passionate about making the arts accessible and who sadly died earlier this year.


The Old Courts have already raised around £500 but need another £1,000 from generous supporters to make the idea a reality.


The campaign opened on Wednesday and the venue has four weeks to reach the total, receiving nothing if that is not reached.

The scheme is part of Crowdfund Wigan Borough, a scheme launched by the council to support innovative projects as part of The Deal.


Rebecca Davenport, director at The Old Courts, said: “Here at The Old Courts we are passionate about quality arts and culture in Wigan and have dedicated the last three years to making it happen.


“It really does pain us that the building isn’t yet accessible to everyone but we are so close and together we can make sure Wigan has a cultural hub Wiganers can be proud of and more importantly enjoy.”


The fund-raising started up in August at the request of Joan’s family and friends, who hoped it would honour her life by finishing something she was passionate about and enable more people to enjoy the cultural events she often attended.


The Old Courts says Joan, a former Wigan Diggers Festival committee member, was delighted with the progress made on disabled access.


Her relatives and friends, along with kind-hearted customers attending The Old Courts’ events, have already contributed to the fund but the cultural community in the borough is now being asked to step up.


Making the town’s 19th-century seat of justice fully accessible has required previous crowdfunding work and a great deal of time and thought from the leadership team at The Old Courts.


The not-for-profit organisation has raised money over the past two years to provide ramp and motorised access to all four floors of the building.


Arts fans have previously been asked to help contribute towards the purchase of a high-tech stair-climbing machine which can take wheelchairs up and down any incline or flight of steps.


The final piece of the jigsaw is now the installation of designated disabled toilets throughout the building, with the project starting in the bar which plays hosts to events including music gigs and open mic nights.


The entire building now contains facilities including a theatre holding more than 200 people, art galleries and rehearsal spaces as well the original Victorian courtroom which is available for hire.


The venue also puts on Wigan Arts Festival, a collaboration with Battersea Arts Centre based on its network of venues which host cutting-edge shows in areas under-served for culture.


The crowdfunding campaign to build disabled toilets at The Old Courts is now under way.


To find out more or donate visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/disabled-washroom-facilities-to-allow-arts-for-all