16 October 2016

Plea for funding as Artix looks ahead to another successful decade

A RALLYING call has gone out to Bromsgrove residents to help secure the long-term future of the town’s Artrix.

As they look towards the next decade and beyond, after an amazing and impressive first ten years, bosses and volunteers from the arts centre want people to help how they can with fund-raising.

As well as putting on theatre, stage shows, films, exhibitions and concerts – from classical music and opera to musicals, pop, rock and panto, the centre also runs workshops and other education sessions.

It also offers events for a people of all ages – from babies and toddlers to teenagers and vulnerable and older people.

Recent additions to the programme have included drive-in movies in the car park, sensory play for toddlers and baby raves, along with the increasingly popular older people cinema sessions. Those who watch the films receive free tea, coffee and biscuits. One recently widowed elderly man told staff it was not until his wife passed away that he really began to value Artrix.

On November 30 and December 1, Artrix’s new resident performance company will be staging ‘Get it On’ which is aimed at teenagers and explores sexual relationships and the health issues surrounding them.

Monday (October 10) was World Mental Health Day and the centre currently has an exhibition of work on display done by 190 artists from across Worcestershire who have suffered mental health problems in the past.

Artrix director Hannah Phillips said: “Alongside our vibrant programme of entertainment we have ambitions to widen our engagement with young people and families, to support emerging artists and develop innovative digital experiences for audiences.”

There is also a bar and cafe area which has recently been revamped. Staff fear people will wrongly think the centre is exceeding all expectations financially and is extremely ‘well off’ when in fact the cash for that was money that had been ‘put away for a rainy day’ with bosses knowing the current cafe was ‘coming to the end of its shelf life’.

A lot of the equipment and fittings were donated, as was people’s time as most of the work to get it up and running was done by volunteers.

In fact, there are around 60 volunteers who carry out a variety of roles at the centre on a regular basis, from ushers, bar staff to other front of house roles.

The sensory play area which is proving a hit with mums, dads, babies and toddlers was paid for by Coun Anthony Blagg’s divisional funds – cash allocated to each councillor to fund community projects.

Rosie Hamilton, Artrix’s marketing and fund-raising officer, said: “There is a lot more to Artrix than meets the eye – we are increasingly finding new ways to use the space we have available and bring in new audiences.”

For example, the foyer is being used more than ever before for meetings and events, such as quizzes, celebrations and poetry slams.

Coming up there is a Diwali Day organised by the Indian Community Foundation, a stage show by David Starkey and plenty of fun for all the family for half-term.

During that week, the BFG is being screened and there are two fun stage shows – Don’t Dribble on the Dragon and Shark in the Park based on the popular children’s book by top author Nick Sharratt, who has also twice appeared at Artrix.

And following the success of the Grease drive-in movie, a spooky showing of Blade will be screened on October 30.

Some renowned performers are also heading to the School Drive venue, including Hal Cruttenden who has featured on the prestige Live at the Apollo and on BBC Radio 4 (Wednesday, October 19), Zoe Lyons (October 27) and TV impressionist Rory Bremner with a ‘Work in Progress’ (November 10).

Classical music fans are in for a treat from October 28 to 30 when there will be a rare opportunity to hear all of Beethoven’s String Quartets in one weekend.

Rosie said: “If everyone who came to Artrix donated £5 or £10, it would really help secure the long-term future of the venue.

“There was a lot of publicity surrounding the reduced contribution to the centre from Bromsgrove District Council and people rose to the challenge with fund-raising then but it has decreased as time has gone on.

“Of course, we understand that Bromsgrove, like all local authorities, have faced funding cuts from the Government and are not able to contribute as much as they used to (the authority is still contributing £60,000-a-year until 2018).

“But that shortfall has to be made up somehow.”

One suggested way people could help is by thinking of Artrix when it comes to leaving legacies or even when they are buying Christmas presents.

Rosie added: “Because of our diverse and ranging programme, residents could buy their family and friends vouchers this Christmas – there will be plenty for people of all ages and tastes in our 2017 programme to choose from.

“The support we have had since Artrix was opened as been phenomenal and we have been overwhelmed and we are hoping everyone will continue to support us in any way they can.”

Hannah added: “We would like to thank Bromsgrove District Council, Worcester County Council, Worcestershire Arts Partnership, Arts Council England and Birmingham City University for their continued support and to those people who have so generously contributed to our fundraising campaigns so far.

“We’re excited about the future and hope that local people will want to help bridge the gap in our funding to support Artrix through the next decade.”

For more on Artrix, shows, donating or volunteering, visit www.artrix.co.uk or call 01527 577330.

Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard