Sherborne arts centre campaigners press ahead with fundraising
SHERBORNE arts campaigners are turning disappointment into fresh determination to build a new centre in the town.
Trustees of the proposed Sherborne Community Arts Centre vowed this week to push on with fundraising following Sherborne Town Council’s decision last month to withdraw support for the £1.7million scheme.
The town council had already given £10,000 to the project, which has the backing of West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin.
But it is no longer tied to its promise of giving a further £40,000. The council is opting instead to focus on renovating its Digby Hall property to provide a facility for arts in the town.
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Trustees have raised or been pledged around £800,000 for the plan to build an arts centre on land next to Paddock Gardens. The site was donated by Dorset County Council and West Dorset District Council has earmarked a total of £700,000 for the project.
Chairman of the trustees Sir Robert Fry said: “We are naturally disappointed with the town council’s decision to withdraw their public support.
“The trust was set up by the council to provide a community arts centre that met the requirements of a needs analysis in partnership with West Dorset District Council.
“We have made significant progress. Planning permission is in place, a wonderful design has been commissioned by award winning architects to exactly meet the needs identified and our fundraising strategy aims to achieve our funding target by September 2014.”
The trustees organised a free Arts Extravaganza in the town in September to launch its Art@Heart Appeal to raised £100,000 in the 100 days ending on 31st December.
Events including arts and crafts fairs, concerts and quizzes are planned alongside work to raise money from funding organisations. Donations started arriving as soon as the public fundraising campaign was launched at Sherborne Abbey in May.
Sir Robert added: “Our campaign is not solely about a building.
“It’s about putting art at the heart of our community.
“We have a strong community arts base in the town but no purpose-built space where groups can meet or exhibit their work.
“We believe the centre will play a significant role in the lives of people in and around Sherborne.”