We have been fortunate in recent months to have been successful in a number of State Grant applications which is enabling us in the period October 2022 through to April 2023 to undertake a significant upgrade of our facilities after sixteen plus years of their pretty intensive use.
Our first investment has been in new seating for our theatre. This installation was completed in early October and increases our capacity to 244 seats. The new seating was installed by an Irish company, Allied Systems & Products Ltd., the cost was almost €65,000 and we wish to acknowledge the decision by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media, Catherine Martin T.D. to award us a 70% grant up to €49,000 under the Department's Cultural Capital Scheme, part of Project Ireland 2040. We are currently undertaking additional investments that will enable us to offer our community a new Cinema facility in 2023 and new energy efficient LED lighting.
We will be making additional investments to upgrade our upstairs Venue Studio that will enable us to put on smaller shows at weekends. Grants have also been secured from Meath County Council and the Dept of Rural and Community Development which will help fund refurbishment and upgrade works to our community centre facilities.
We are also continuing to put in place the foundation stones that will enable us to broaden the diversity of arts featured in our facilities and we see the new investment in our upstairs Venue Studio as being a major milestone on that path. New groups have been established in more arts disciplines through 2022 and these will feed into an expanded programme in 2023. We want to acknowledge the ongoing support of local volunteers and the partial funding received from the County Arts Office in Navan, both of which enable us to continue to pursue this expansion programme.
We have just completed the 41st issue of our free community "Ratoath News & Views". This is distributed to every household in Ratoath.
Our Happy Days childcare continue to win awards and generate very favourable media coverage for Ratoath and are currently working hard after ataining the 2021 Facebook Community Grant we secured which is gently introducing STEM to the children and how it can be incorporated into the childrens' lives and their interactions with their new friends in Ratoath Manor Nursing Home.
We are also very excited to have started a new Ratoath Community Employment Scheme which will now create community employment for upwards of 25 participants exclusive to Ratoath voluntary and sports organisations. We see this as having a most positive effect on our town and that it will make a visible difference very quickly. And finally we are pleased to announce that we have taken on responsibility for the Ratoath Notice Board. Great credit to local resident, Gillian Kiely, who has steered this 12,000 member Board for the past 9 years and developed it into a great asset and resource for our community. We are currently reviewing adverising on the Notice Board to ensure that advertisements do not dilute community messages on the Board.
We invite you to have a more detailed look around our website and perhaps you are not fully aware of all the various activities that we undertake. We have made all the necessary changes and improvements to ensure that all our facilities and services are operated in as safe a manner as possible and that all visitors to our facilities feel as safe as possible in relation to Covid-19.
In planning for the future expansion of our services, we are asking you to take time to complete a short survey on our future direction and any priority areas you believe we should be addressing within these plans.
Our next major expansion project will be the construction of a new Community Sports Campus Hub Building and if you have not yet visited our community sports campus, then please do so and you will see at first hand a model community sports development with a multi-sports campus of the highest standards situated adjacent to Ratoath College. Our new Astro Pitches are now being used by local sports clubs, fitness classes and Ratoath College. Also we have just completed a €50,000 investment in building a new entrance that accesses all sports centrally, a new viewing area and a new emergency entrance for accessing the lower pitch / track levels.