To Kick Start the building project; to create Artivarious - Arts and Crafts Community Centre on the South Herefordshire/Welsh Border; by regenerating a redundant building we have approached Calor for the funding which will supply water to the site, drainage and other services to the site together with pad foundations for the new building. This will commence our way forward to the redevelopment of the site.
At the last census of 2011 Ewyas Harold had a population of 883 and within a 7 mile radius we have assumed a population of about 1500 souls. Judging from the response to the appeal for support for the CALOR project we believe that it is popular with a broad section of the community. The primary school in the village has approached us to show their support for the project and ensure the centre is available for their use.
Steps we have achieved whilst working towards funding.
In conjunction with applying for funding from Calor to carry out our initial kick start work, we have been in discussion with a local builder of refurbished module buildings to provide the new working space they are looking to supply the building to us at a very cost effective price. We have feedback as to how to approach our planning application and the detailed design drawings are being worked up for the builder and the planners.
In the first instance by raising awareness through the community support requirement of the Calor grant application we are being approached by individuals who are offering help in the way of pledges, donations and long-term loans. This is in addition to the assistance offers for the building work, and the community giving of their time. The local gardening group has approached us with an offer to develop some of the grounds around the buildings into a sensory garden which they will maintain, with areas to sit in the open spaces.
The offer of the centre is unusual in that we are providing space for people to come together to work on their arts and crafts; meet volunteers working with the doctors surgery to provide social prescribing through the arts; and have a space for the work to be exhibited on a rolling programme so that everyone with work to show and sell has an opportunity to do so. We are working towards having an all-encompassing space which is currently not available in our area of South Herefordshire.
Artivarious has been formed by a group of artists and crafts people in South Herefordshire and Welsh border who are very well aware that in this area of outstanding natural beauty there is an underlying problem of rural and social isolation. This has been recognised in Herefordshire and the profile of social prescribing is being raised for the health and well being of our community.
The area on which we would impact is centred on the village of Ewyas Harold, which is the largest conurbation on the border which reaches out its services to the outlying hamlets and villages over a radius of approximately 7 miles. A conservative estimate of population is around 1,500. Transport is possible – apart from cars, there are local community transport systems in place and cycling is the order of the day for those fit enough to manage the hills.
With the cycle track between Pontrilas, where plans are ahead for the reopening of a railway station, and Hay on Wye this centre would be another attraction for travellers to visit and stop awhile.
The village has a vibrant primary school, two shop, a pub and a gastro pub, fish and chips takeaway doctors surgery and emergency dentist. The intention is to reach out to all sectors of the community, to encourage their participation in the centre and provide an occupied space where a person can walk in and join in. A place to drop in or stay.
Due to the Coronavirus and the social distancing regulations in place and access the Methodist Chapel can no longer open to their congregation. Artivarious has offered the congregation that if they have the opportunity of fellowship or running their awareness Pop-in Coffee mornings in the future they are welcome to use the chapel area and facilities for this.
The vision is to run an Arts and Crafts Community Centre to provide facilities for expression through the arts and crafts. Initially we have thought of workshops, pop-up events or guided group events but there are more possibilities to explore as the project develops. Participants would be able to work alone, be led or be part of self-help group projects and workshops.
We have been looking for a space in which to work together for several years and are now focusing our efforts on a small abandoned building in the centre of Ewyas Harold This is a deconsecrated Catholic Church within its own grounds which was purchased some 6 years ago by the Parish Council for the community. The site and its location is an ideal setting for development to fulfil the requirements of Artivarious.
The existing building is the focal point of the development and with its inherent tranquillity and beautiful natural lighting, lends itself to being transformed into the permanent exhibition space and a café meeting area. Currently it has no water or drainage and the electricity installation requires overhauling. Access for the new development will have a ramp to augment the existing steps. The new extension is on the same level as the existing building, the two buildings being joined by a bridge which will accommodate lavatories and a tea point.
The building is also acoustically excellent and would be a good venue for music examinations, small concerts, poetry readings and folk singing.
The doctor's surgery is very keen to get a volunteer group in place for assisting with social prescribing which they see as increasing in importance but which does not have the time or funding to initiate the project. The arts community centre project sees this as a natural partnership and the response to the initiative, from the surgery, has been positive, so an area behind the chancel has been designated for the voluntary support group which is already being formed to assist the surgery’s social prescribing for health and well being. This group will also use the café space for group discussions and the workshop for other events..
Following the Calor Grant appeal the project is attracting interest in the wider community with the projected workshop space especially attention from specialist tutors from other parts of Herefordshire who need a venue for group teaching.
This in turn will attract more custom to the village and have an effect on the local economy.
The abandoned site in the village is not liked and this project has the support of many of the inhabitants who can see the value of an informal gathering place in the heart of the village with a dedicated arts and crafts focus to enable socialising and creativity while encompassing activities in arts music and drama. They also understand that there is no intention of this facility to undermine the other social activities or the venues where they are held in the village.
The steering group for the project Artivarious has been working with the Parish Council to obtain a lease and a continued relationship into the future. The lease offered is up to 24 years in total and during this time the Parish Council is anticipating maintaining close contact.
The structure of Artivarious is based on a well-tested business model of a charitable incorporated organisation with a constitution which is in submission to the Charities Commission for registration. We have not been in a position, until the last few months, to set up the CIO as we have been waiting for the legal documentation to come through from the Parish Council.
There will be a Membership structure of three levels, investment membership, annual subscription with non- members paying a sustainable attendance fee. The volunteer pool to ensure that the space is open every day will come mainly from our Membership. However, there are already people engaged with the project who are not interested in arts and crafts but would like to work in the garden project and do their turn with opening up the centre and looking after any visitors.
Our project aim for 2020/2021 is to get the building fit for occupation and open for use. Currently we are working to get grant funding for most of the capital expenditure with reliance upon our keen community who will give of their professional expertise as well as time to realise the project. As activity is seen around the building and the grounds, it is anticipated that the general community will become more engaged and will increase the support and use of the centre.
The start to this project has been some years in its gestation whilst obtaining the interest and support of the Parish Council. Therefore, we have not been actively promoting the facility since initially sounding out the community’s interest as there is a finite time span before it is believed by them that the project will not go ahead and the impetus is lost. The head of steam is now building up and as interest is gathering we are ready to do the work.