Vision to create top arts venue in Southwold
- Credit: Nick Butcher
For more than 80 years St. Edmund's Hall in Southwold has been at the heart of a coastal community.
Built in 1934, as a church hall for the nearby St. Edmunds Church, it has survived a German bomb attack in 1942 and has held an annual summer theatre season since 1938.
But with the decreasing physical condition of the building resulting in fewer bookings, centre director, Peter Adshead has created a vision to complete vital repairs and refurbishment to make the hall 'the première entertainment venue of Southwold.'
In order to stop this decline and breathe new life into the building, Mr Adshead established the Sole Bay Arts Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SBACIO) in 2016 to operate the hall as Southwold Arts Centre and ensure the venue does not face its final curtain call.
He said: 'For 80 years this building has been at the centre of the community and I am trying to put it back at the heart by engaging the population with art they would not otherwise have access to, and by offering a place where people can meet.
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'I am working on a new design for the building which would see the downstairs toilets moved and lifts installed to make the building more disabled friendly and make more room for a drop-in centre café.
'As well as building a new tier for dressing rooms and following discussion with Suffolk Libraries, the potential of moving Southwold Library to the premises.'
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Other planned improvements include new stage lighting, sound system, windows and retractable seating, which would see the venue capacity increase from 220 to 250. It is projected the plans would come to a total of £200,000, which would be raised through general use of the hall and donations.
The arts centre is currently used by a variety of community groups and hosts popular festivals such as Ways With Words Literary Festival.
Mr Adshead explains he aims to expand upon these by establishing workshops, art exhibitions and adult and youth amateur dramatic groups.
He added: 'These changes would open the doors to medium sized theatrical touring companies, making the building self-sustainable and offering greater variety of production for audiences to enjoy all year round.
'I am doing this for the local community and with their support we can build a sustainable and successful arts centre for future generations.'
For more information contact 01502 722572 or email email@example.com.