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Ilminster Arts Centre needs YOUR support
12:00pm Friday 8th March 2013 in News
THE shock closure of the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton last month sent a shudder through the arts world in Somerset.
The Brewhouse, one of the biggest theatres in the county, suddenly announced it was going into administration and closing its doors because of a reduction in funding.
The news was greeted with stunned disbelief by many, while it probably served as a wake-up call for other arts centres and theatres in the region to look at their finances and remind people that there is a danger that much loved places of culture could be lost unless they receive regular support.
Anthony Pither, chairman of trustees of Ilminster Arts Centre at the Meeting House, told the News they, too, nearly closed a couple of years ago.
“Though we at present enjoy a reasonably stable financial situation it has not always been like that,” he said.
“We lost local authority funding back in 2006, and in 2010 we were on the verge of bankruptcy and closure.
“As an arts centre with charitable status we operate no differently from another business. If income doesn’t meet our outgoings we’re heading for trouble.”
Ilminster Arts Centre was established in 1996 and is a vibrant venue which is very much at the heart of the community.
Mr Pither said: “We rely heavily on the support of our 100-plus volunteers who are involved in all areas of running the centre.
“As a result the number of paid staff is small – a shared administrative post, and several part-time positions: a cook, café helpers, a marketing officer and a caretaker.”
He said the arts centre relied entirely on fundraising and donations, but had been successful in attracting grant funding from organisations such as The Gooch Charitable Trust, NatWest Community Force and South Somerset District Council for capital projects, such as the kitchen refurbishment, re-decoration and replacement gallery lighting.
“We also receive small amounts of funding from South Somerset District Council for specific activities, such as young people’s workshops and the recent schools’ art exhibition,” he said.
But without the support of people in Ilminster and beyond attending events at the arts centre it would struggle to survive.
Centre spokesman Sara Loveridge told the News she hoped the closure of the Brewhouse might inspire more people in the Ilminster area to support their local arts centre as well as Ilminster’s voluntary-run Warehouse Theatre.
“A town the size of Ilminster is very lucky to have its own arts centre and theatre, and long may that continue,” she said.