Minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education Bill Rammell performed a “topping out” ceremony at Edge Hill?s new £5million Centre for Performing Arts.

Following his address to the first regional Aimhigher conference, Mr Rammell took a tour of the building, due for completion in September 2005 putting his bricklaying skills into action to commemorate his visit.

The new facilities include two new theatres, a fully sprung dance studio, six drama studios, seminar rooms, enhanced facilities for music and a full range of production studios for activities from costume contruction to work in latex, set building in wood and computer aided set design.

Mr Rammell, who moved from the Foreign Office to Education following the general election, was impressed with the facilities, commenting to Head of Performing Arts Barbara Bell:

“I?m sure you?re very excited about the opportunities that the new centre will bring. The building is wonderful. I?ve been very impressed with this visit to Edge Hill. There?s a real energy and vibrancy about the place. You?re doing a huge amount of work in opening up access to students, mature students in particular.”

Members of the Performing Arts and Estates departments, architects and planners met the Minister on a tour of the building.

Barbara Bell said: “We were delighted to welcome Bill Rammell to perform the “topping out” ceremony. We have a new degree in Dance starting in September, to complement our existing successful degrees in Drama, Physical Theatre and Dance and in Drama. Students arriving in September will be able to use many of the new facilities that will be up and running by then.”