ARTS organisation Metal is celebrating 20 years since its birth.

The multi site charity which has spearheaded huge events such as the Estuary Festival and Village Green, first landed in Southend 13 years ago, renovating and taking over the unused Chalkwell Hall in Chalkwell Park, Westcliff.

But before most Southend residents came to know it, it already existed, with sites in London and Liverpool.

The story began in 2002 when founder Jude Kelly CBE, working with former artistic director and CEO Colette Bailey, imagined Metal as an "artistic laboratory to champion the need for continual investment in artistic investigation and the development of innovative ideas that would shift the thinking in the UK cultural sector".

A spokesman for Metal said: "It was originally stationed in the former ticket office of West Hampstead Railway Station.

"The original building inspired the name ‘Metal’ as steel works were discovered in the space where Sir Anthony Caro had built a range of his 960’s steel sculptures and Tom Hunter had been running a metal workshop."

Metal then grew to found its sites in Liverpool (2004), Southend (2007) and Peterborough (2012), in each instance operating from buildings of historical significance that have been transformed from derelict spaces.

They each provide multi-disciplinary residencies and development opportunities for artists from the UK and overseas.

Over the last 20 years, Metal has produced an impressive number of large-scale projects.

Locally, these have included the Estuary Festival, Village Green, Wish You Were Here, Shorelines literary festival and more.

Metal has also won awards for several flagship projects, such as the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show award-winning garden A Space to Connect and Grow, created by artist Jeni Cairns; Harvest Festival which won The Sunday Telegraph’s Bring Home the Harvest Award with Love British Food and The Telegraph; and the NetPark Wellbeing Project in partnership with Southend City Council which was highly commended by the National Mental Health Awards.

Metal’s Village Green festival was also linked into the national Cultural Olympiad celebrations leading up to the games in 2012 and was awarded one of the first London 2012 inspire marks (a badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme, which recognised exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the 2012 Games). ‘Anthem’ in partnership with Southend City Council, saw a choir of 2000 school pupils and adults from across Southend sing a specifically commissioned new piece of choral music in celebration of the Olympic Torch visit.

Andrea Cunningham, director at Metal, said: "Metal has been involved in some great projects over the past 13 years in Southend and the wider South Essex region, helping to spotlight the fantastic diverse cultural landscape of this place.

"Since restoring the beautiful Chalkwell Hall in 2007 there have been hundreds of magical creative moments and we are excited about the future and what is bubbling up culturally in our beloved Essex."

Metal has supported over 11,254 artists, engaged with 8,142,008 audiences and worked with over 109,155 participants through workshops and other events.