New Community Hub Project
For a small town Crediton certainly punches above its weight in cultural terms. It has at least 12 different organisations teaching and performing drama, music and dance, including CODS, the Brown Paper Bag Theatre Company, Crediton Youth Theatre, the Music Makers, the Moon Jazz Club, the Boniface Concert Society, two dance schools and several choirs. These groups use a number of venues across town, such as the Arts Centre, the Old Town Hall and the churches, but they have no purpose-built theatre where they can fully develop and showcase their talents. Crediton also lacks a cinema and exhibition space for the many artists that live and work in the area.
The aim of the New Community Hub (NCH) Project is to provide a modern, multi-purpose facility, including a versatile 200–250-seat auditorium, dance and art studios, meeting rooms, café and gallery. The Hub would not only provide space for local performance groups and artists, but also a lively entertainment venue for professional theatre, music, comedy and film events. However, it would be far more than an arts centre, offering activities and services for all ages, whether that’s parent and toddler groups, a meeting place for teenagers or afternoon talks for older people. It could even include office space for small businesses and conference facilities.
This is clearly an ambitious project, requiring substantial funding (we estimate £5 to £8 million) which could well take five years, or more, to achieve. In the current economic climate it may seem like an impossible dream. But the Town Team believes that Crediton needs and deserves a top quality facility to match its thriving cultural scene and aspirations and that we need to be ready with a convincing business plan for when the economy picks up.
Since April 2015 the NCH Project Group has been visiting arts and cultural venues across the county to learn from the experience of other towns. We have also been consulting local organisations on whether and how they might use a new facility. To finance this project, we will need to address local needs and issues in an innovative way that excites the major funders. And we will have to ensure that the Hub can be run as a viable enterprise, not dependent on grant funding to keep afloat. This means creating partnerships with organisations which would use the Hub as their home and ensure it was used seven days a week. The Watermark in Ivybridge, for example, houses a multi-use auditorium, café, gallery, business units and the public library.
The Hub could be a new building on the edge of town or a conversion of an existing building. We have been considering a number of sites and talking to the planners, but at this stage no decision has been made on the location.
In June 2016 a draft Feasibility Study was published, summarizing the results of our initial research and consultation meetings were held with stakeholders and members of the public in October and November 2016. The reaction of all parties was very positive, with a definite preference for a large, all-embracing facility able to meet all functions, which are part of our ACE concept, (Arts, Community and Enterprise). The Town Council was also consulted and has given its full support.
In May 2017 the Final Feasibility Study was published marking the end of our 1st phase of activity, establishing the “Vision”. The next phase, known as “Development”, will explore the business case, sites, building layouts and detailed costs estimates. Funding will also be addressed.
The Town Team is always open to new ideas and suggestions, so tell us what you think and get involved with this exciting project.
Arts and cultural venues elsewhere
Map of Crediton’s current venues
(from the 2015 Crediton Festival brochure)