Arts centre celebrates first birthday

AN arts venue in north Suffolk is celebrating its first birthday this month.Renowned British actor Sir Alan Bates officially opened The Cut Arts Centre in Halesworth in October last year.

By David Lennard

AN arts venue in north Suffolk is celebrating its first birthday this month.

Renowned British actor Sir Alan Bates officially opened The Cut Arts Centre in Halesworth in October last year.

In an entertaining speech, Sir Alan - who died later in the year - praised the vision and hard work that had gone into creating such a “splendid” arts venue in the former maltings building.


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“This building breathes the past and it will also be the future,” he said. “That a comparatively small town such as Halesworth can produce such an impressive venue is magnificent and everyone concerned should be congratulated. It is a cut above the rest.”

A year on, and organisers at the arts complex believe they are close to achieving their own and Sir Alan's vision.

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“When we set out we wanted to prove that a rural area like this could support a wide-ranging arts complex,” said James Holloway, performing arts co-ordinator and one of the driving forces behind the centre.

“We felt it was important that the arts were not restricted to the larger centres of population in East Anglia such as Ipswich and Norwich.”

The fact that many people living in Ipswich and Norwich now make regular trips to attend plays, concerts and workshops held at the Halesworth centre is proof that centre - a charity run by a small staff and a huge volunteer workforce - is achieving its objective.

The venture to create the venue began in 1998 when the maltings building was still under reconstruction, but since its official opening the 200-seat auditorium has become the stage for cutting-edge drama from many touring companies.

Regional company Eastern Angles visit regularly and last month premiered their thought-provoking play about transportation, Margaret Down Under.

Many varied sounds have reverberated around the old brick walls including jazz, blues, folk, classical, as well as music from up-and-coming bands.

The Cut is also home to a wide range of workshops and meetings with classes including Spanish, creative writing, jewellery making, computer skills, yoga, pottery and watercolour painting.

And for two weeks from Friday, October 22, the venue will play a pivotal role in the second Halesworth Arts Festival.

“Despite our successes The Cut receives no art funding and at present relies on its growing audience support and a huge volunteer force for its existence,” said Mr Holloway.

“Members of the community are always welcome to join our vibrant and friendly team and take part in a wide range of activities.”

The Cut is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 11am and 4pm with a café open for light lunches. All enquiries can be made at the main office by telephoning 01986 873285.

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