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Struggling community centre relaunched as innovative arts venue

PUBLISHED: 11:14 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 08 October 2019

Artist Caroline Burn, who has helped turn Holt's underused community centre into a thriving arts venue.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Artist Caroline Burn, who has helped turn Holt's underused community centre into a thriving arts venue. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

A struggling community centre has been given a major revamp, thanks to the efforts of a band of volunteers working on a shoestring budget to turn it into a thriving arts venue.

Artists Lesley Ash and Pippa King, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLArtists Lesley Ash and Pippa King, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Holt Community Centre, which was built in 1975 after a 12-year fundraising campaign started by a small group of townsfolk, had, over the years, become underused and, as a result, committee members struggled to make ends meet.

But, keen to bring the facility back into wider use, artist Caroline Burn, who runs a community café at the Kerridge Way centre, came up with the idea of offering classes and courses for all ages and abilities, providing exhibition space and low cost studios for local artists and running events ranging from concerts, to themed nights and dances.

Misty Morning, Sheringham Park, by Leslie Nockels, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhbition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLMisty Morning, Sheringham Park, by Leslie Nockels, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhbition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

"I realised the finances of the centre weren't at all good and, the way things were going, we would certainly lose it within year, After people had worked to hard to get it, I just couldn't let that happen," Mrs Burn said.

With the support of Holt traders ranging from electricians, to technology experts, and a budget of just a few thousand pounds, Mrs Burn and her team set about revamping the centre, painting the walls, installing new flooring, creating a welcoming reception area, installing improved lighting and creating a studio space catering for up to 10 artists.

Marsh II, by Maggie Simmons, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhbition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLMarsh II, by Maggie Simmons, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhbition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The new-look centre, which was launched this week with an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA, is now called The Venue.

It will offer everything from children's activities, to craft workshops for people with dementia, also linking up with Holt Festival, Holt Primary School and the Love Holt initiative to stage community events.

Boat on the Broads, by Lesley Ash, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLBoat on the Broads, by Lesley Ash, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Mrs Burn said: "Our 15 or so regular groups will continue to use the centre, but our aim is to give the community a fantastic venue where they can access the arts on their doorstep and - most importantly - at an affordable level.

A '365' scheme has been launched, with Mrs Burn asking people to agree to donate £2 a week towards annual running costs of the centre.

Picnic at Yalta, by Pippa King, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLPicnic at Yalta, by Pippa King, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

"What we want to do is to get 365 people to sign up as that would give us the £37,000 a year we need," she said. "My dream is to be able to either cut rates or not charge the charitable groups that use the centre."

Work by NOVA artists will be on show at the centre until October 24. For more information, or to sign up to the 365 scheme, phone 01263 713427 or email: holtcommunitycentre@gmail.com

Beach Chalet, Cromer, by Margaret Studley, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLBeach Chalet, Cromer, by Margaret Studley, whose work is on show at The Venue, Holt, as part of an exhibition by north Norfolk arts group NOVA. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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