The Latest: Vision for the digital age

21st February 2003 at 00:00

Fifteen to 24-year-olds may provide today's cinema chains with most of their paying customers, but the range of films on offer to young people is often shamefully narrow. Outside London, choice rarely extends beyond a handful of jackpot-chasing Hollywood blockbusters.

But in Liverpool that is all set to change, with the opening this month of a cinema dedicated to arthouse, foreign-language and independent film.

More importantly, the cinema is just one feature of a purpose-built arts centre that places film in the context of the digital age.

As well as three screens, the Fact centre will house two galleries, providing space for temporary exhibitions of film, video and new media projects, as well as a curated space for internet-based art.

A state-of-the-art Medialab studio will incorporate digital video and audio editing, multimedia and streaming media facilities.

Designed to support the production and training needs of local artists, the Medialab will also be used for training art teachers in new technology.

Built on the site of a former warehouse, the Fact centre is the brainchild of the Foundation for Art amp; Creative Technology, an agency set up in 1988 to support, develop and exhibit the work of artists in film, video and new media.

The pound;10 million centre has been developed in association with City Screen, which operates the Picturehouse network of 14 independent cinemas.

Housed over five floors, which include a caf and bar, it is part of a pound;110 million redevelopment of the Ropewalks district of Liverpool's city centre and a flagship project in the city's Capital of Culture bid.

But film is only part of the Fact story: much of the focus will be on participation, rather than viewing. A central part of Fact's philosophy is to develop the creative potential to use new and emerging media technologies within local communities.

Emma Letheren is organising pupil-artist collaborations with other local schools: a film collage by pupils at West Derby boys' comprehensive working with artist Jackie Passmore will be previewed by teachers next month.

Miss Letheren believes one of the most valuable aspects of the twilight training sessions is that they allow hard-pressed teachers the time to develop their skills in a supportive environment.

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