The team behind the multi-venue festival Ipswich Sound City have secured £300,000 in funding to transform an unused church into a permanent music venue.

St Stephen’s in Ipswich town centre will be converted to a 225-capacity venue having been used as a venue during Out Loud Music’s two-day Sound City Ipswich event in October – an offshoot of Liverpool Sound City that was launched in 2019.

The venue, which will be run by the new Sounds East Community Interest Company (CIC), will officially open early next year but will be used for a series of pop-up events before the summer. These include Brighten The Corners – a free weekend festival by The Smokehouse Presents that will be part of Ipswich Borough Council’s Welcome Back Weekend on 11-12 March. The venue will also be used as a community café during the day.

Out Loud, which has a 20-year lease on the church, said it will install a PA system, staging, lighting, sound-proofing, new toilets and a fire exit. The funding has come from the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund and Ipswich Borough Council.

The CIC’s director Joe Bailey said, “To have a music venue of this stature in the heart of the town is going to be a real game-changer for bands and audiences from Ipswich and further afield.”

A spokesperson from the Suffolk Growth Partnership Board said, “We are pleased to be backing a sector that has been hit hard throughout the pandemic to bounce back, respond creatively to the town centre challenges and boost the day and night-time economy, as well as the wider visitor economy.”