FIVE attractions in the town are celebrating grants from the local Business Improvement District (BID), RTW Together, following an application process which required them to match the grant funds from their own resources.
Trinity Theatre received £1,500 toward a new interactive touchscreen to support their new heritage attraction, the clocktower space, which it hopes will bring thousands of visitors to the town.
The clocktower itself will not be accessible to visitors with mobility issues, but the touchscreen will offer them virtual access to the clocktower and its view across the town. It is also part-funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The £1,500 grant follows a one-off grant of £5,000, given to the arts centre’s emergency fundraiser this spring, said RTW Together.
The Forum secured the largest grant in this round: £3,000 toward replacing their PA system, which they said would improve sound quality and facilitate bigger, more demanding shows.
The Spa Valley Railway received £2,000 to improve its hospitality offering and create a new income stream through the purchase of a high-end coffee machine.
Commercial and Finance Manager Jonnie Pay said the heritage railway currently served over 70,000 people a year.
Spa Valley had also received a £2,500 grant in the events category, announced in May.
Royal TW Water, which operates the historic Chalybeate Spring – the birthplace of Tunbridge Wells as a town – received an attractions grant of £1,500.
The attraction includes regular costumed characters and ‘dippers’ to serve the water, and founder Samuel Danby said: “The support from the BID will play a key role in allowing us to sustainably operate and bring the richness of the spring to life throughout the year for residents and visitors alike.”
Meanwhile, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Arts Society on The Pantiles received a £500 attractions grant toward new signage and promotion of its free attraction to visitors.
Alex Green, CEO of RTW Together BID, said: “We are delighted to have been able to introduce a new grant process specifically to support existing and potential cultural and tourist attractions that bring vibrancy and energy to the town.
“These grants are able to deliver on our core aims: to attract more footfall to the town, as well as make Tunbridge Wells a sought-after destination with high-quality events and activities.”
The BID is funded by an annual levy from businesses within the Business Improvement District area, based on the rateable value of the premises.