The keys for the Hastings landmark venue, St Mary in the Castle have been handed over to Buckswood School after the council voted to give it temporary tenancy.
The school plans to establish St Mary in the Castle as a cultural destination for the South East and for use by the whole community.
Council leader, Jeremy Birch, said: "This is the start of a very bright, new future for St Mary in the Castle. The plans that Buckswood have for the venue will certainly add to what the town has to offer as we make our bid for the City of Culture.
"It gives me great pleasure to hand over the this jewel in our crown and I look forward to seeing a full programme of events"