Eye: Thousands of people visit arts centre The Bank which opened this year

Ian (L to R) Donna-Marie Harvey, Christopher Parr and Rebecca Lyne outside the new arts centre in Eye called The Bank in the former HSBC building. Photoraph Simon Parker Ian (L to R) Donna-Marie Harvey, Christopher Parr and Rebecca Lyne outside the new arts centre in Eye called The Bank in the former HSBC building. Photoraph Simon Parker

Matt Hunter matt.hunter@archant.co.uk
Friday, December 13, 2013
6:00 AM

More than 8,000 visitors have been through the doors of one of Suffolk’s newest art attractions since it opened earlier in the year.

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The Bank arts centre in Eye was launched in April and has welcomed 8,350 people to see the latest exhibitions and performances. Work by more than 320 artists has been displayed – with offerings originating from across the world, including from Japan, Sweden, Italy and the Philippines, as well as from residents in Eye itself.

Chairman of the Eyes Open Community Interest Company – an army of volunteers which leads the running of the centre – is Rebecca Lyne. She said the main reason for setting up the centre was because of a lack of arts facilities in the area.

“We were hoping for these kind of numbers but we were not expecting them,” she said.

“We wanted to create a space that is friendly and welcoming and did not have a formal atmosphere of a normal gallery. We wanted people to experience art in a way that was more accessible.

“The numbers have steadily increased each week. The people that do come in seem to be coming back more and more.”

She said it had been “really touching” to receive a grant by the Suffolk Foundation for £5,000 in honour of the volunteers’ work. Now the organisers are looking to 2014 with relish with a variety of events planned.

When holding concerts the intimacy of the venue is so important that often only 60 people are allowed into the main hall which has a maximum capacity of 100.

Alongside the music and art exhibitions the centre provides a cafe, recording studio and spaces for groups and classes to be held. Next Friday the venue will host a concert by Greig Stewart, drummer with the English indie band the Guillemots.

Tickets for the concert are £7, £5 for concessions. Doors open at 7.15pm. For more info go to www.thebankeye.org or call 01379 873495.

The centre, which is based in the former HSBC bank in Castle Street, is open Tuesday-Saturday 8am-5pm, Sundays 10am-4pm.

In May the volunteers said they feared it may have to close if a bid to sell alcohol and put on plays, films and live music, failed to be approved.

Nearby homeowners and businesses had written in to Mid Suffolk District Council to complain over noise and anti-social behaviour fears. Councillors later approved the application.

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