‘EXCITING’ plans to create a permanent home for the world-renowned Barnsley Youth Choir are now one step closer after plans were agreed in principle by ruling cabinet members.

The council agreed to lease its former Computer Centre building, behind the town hall, for 50 years to aid with the development of the Northern Academy for Vocal Excellence (NAVE).

Cabinet members also agreed to provide a significant financial contribution of £500,000, which is to be matched by further funding and will help strengthen the choir’s funding bids toward the expected costs for refurbishment of £2.5m.

The NAVE would become a permanent home to the youth choir, who became a registered charity in 2009 - and they now provide training to more than 450 singers aged between four and 24.

The choir is ranked third in the Interkultur World Rankings and has won eight prizes in major international competitions.

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Barnsley Youth Choir artistic director, Mat Wright MBE, said: “The NAVE will be a regional and national centre to support the very highest levels of singing.

“We’ll be working with some of the greatest international experts, and it’s going to be a space for people of all ages to learn and train from the very best in the world.

“The plans are really ambitious and while it’s primarily about young people, we want the whole community to benefit from this, from youth groups, to adult choirs like Barnsley Singers, to dementia support groups.

“We’ve got plans for it to be a place that really does serve the community and really does make a difference.

“While we have made a lot of progress, and we are incredibly grateful for the excellent support that the council has provided, there is still a great deal to do, and we are working hard to raise the finances to realise this vision for the town.”

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, added: “Barnsley Youth Choir is an outstanding organisation of which Barnsley is and should be incredibly proud.

“The experiences offered to thousands of young people over the last 12 years are life-changing and it’s vital that the choir is supported to grow.

“Our borough is a place that fosters and grows ambition, enabling everyone to be the best they can be.

“That’s why we’re supporting BYC in developing a permanent home to nurture the incredible talent of our young people, develop their skills for life and to build Barnsley’s already outstanding reputation for singing.”