North Walsham Atrium centre is for all

People across North Walsham are being urged to get involved in the town's new Atrium arts and community centre taking shape at the high school ahead of its autumn opening.

A rallying call has gone out for local folk to realise the �5.3m complex is a community facility which can offer them the chance to take part in activities ranging from music and drama to craft and photography.

The message comes from the venue's community arts co-ordinator April Vogel, who said: 'The people of North Walsham need to know this centre is for them.

'It is not just for the school, but for the whole community. We want them to have a go at things they have never tried before.'

The current Saturday Arts scheme, which already tries to get locals involved out of school hours, is providing a bridge to the new complex due to open in September with a range of facilities including a cinema and theatre, dance and music studios, community cafe and creche, recording studio, internet suite, games room, cooking facilities, and meeting rooms.


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Cash for the two-storey Atrium came from a �200m government 'co-location fund' aimed at bringing together education, health, housing, leisure and careers services for children and families on one site.

Ms Vogel said a push on the community arts front had already seen numbers of people taking part rise from 100 to 250, using existing school facilities.

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But once the new centre opened there would be scope for much more.

'We have people aged from four to their 60s learning musical instruments, but we want to encourage the formation of bands and ensembles so they can play music together,' she added.

'We are also trying hard to develop provision of arts for the disabled to save 40-plus mile round trips to Norwich. Providing activities here is another way of combating prejudice within the community against disability.'

Other planned launch activities included health and well being, food, and cinema, with efforts being made to add an international dimension, said Ms Vogel.

This month, to start bringing the activities to the boil, Saturday Arts is staging a family puppet workshop using experts from the Norwich Puppet Theatre on June 11, and art sessions based on the pop art style of Andy Warhol on June 18.

Comic strip art is explored by illustrator Kel Winser on June 25 and July 2.

Next month pensioners with rag rug skills and memories are being asked to help with sessions making floor coverings from recycled material on July 9, while a July 16 session will show how to make beaded jewellery from recycled paper. All the workshops start at 11.45.

There are also weekly photography, life drawing, street dance, storytelling, drama, and music sessions.

The venue would also be looking to do events in the holidays, as well as cookery, creative writing and English as a second language.

Ms Vogel stressed it was a centre for the people and if there were classes people wanted, they should let her know.

She added: 'People are beginning to recognise the quality of what's on offer as we work towards the opening of the new Atrium, which is earmarked to become the hub of North Norfolk's arts activities and will also address the need to provide arts for all levels of disability.

'On a wider scale, the Atrium will also develop extensive community facilities to build a strong and cohesive community with raised levels of aspiration which will be supported by opportunities for extended learning and achievement.

'All in all, North Walsham's future is definitely looking rather exiting.'

For more details of the courses, or to suggest ideas for others, contact April Vogel at the school on 01692 402581 or e-mail vogel.april@googlemail.com

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