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New exhibition explores 60-year legacy of much-loved Leicester arts centre

Phoenix will be launching the exhibition - Place and Memory - this month.

A new exhibition exploring the 60-year history and legacy of Phoenix, Leicester’s independent cinema and digital arts centre, opens this month.


Originally beginning its life as a theatre back in 1963, Phoenix developed over time to focus on film and art. It moved to its purpose-built home in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter in 2009. The "old Phoenix", as it's often referred to locally, is now the Sue Townsend Theatre.


A multi-million-pound expansion, completed earlier this year, has created a superb 4-screen independent cinema and digital arts gallery in the heart of Leicester.


With a treasure trove of archive material to draw from, Place and Memory will take visitors on a journey through Phoenix’s past.


It explores the theatre, film, art and festivals that have been presented at Phoenix over the last 60 years – and will continue to be in the future.


The exhibition team, led by Phoenix’s digital arts manager Irina Tsokova, have been given access to the University of Leicester’s archives, including the Sue Townsend and Joe Orton collections.


Leicester Mercury granted access to news clippings and photos, and a call-out to members of the public generated a host of other materials – including programmes, tickets, and posters – from people’s private collections.


The project has involved volunteers and students from De Montfort University, and collaboration with the Documentary Media Centre.


Coinciding with Phoenix’s 60th anniversary, Place and Memory features digital works by artists Martin Cibik, Adam Stephenson, Calum Vaughan, and Sean Clark, which will allow visitors to interact with the collected content.


Through integrated motion sensors, virtual reality, projection mapping and audio-visual pieces, visitors will be taken on an immersive journey to reminisce about Phoenix’s past, and look ahead to what the future holds.


The Place and Memory exhibition will be at Phoenix’s gallery from April 7 - June 18, 2023. The gallery is open 11am–11pm daily, and entry is free.

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