New arts venue aims to bring drama to rural community

Amy and Esther Gibbons outside Slate Barn, a space that they are developing into a performing arts

Amy (left) and Esther Gibbons outside Slate Barn, a space that they are developing into a performing arts venue. - Credit: Archant

A fundraising initiative has begun to convert a barn into a performing arts venue to bring drama to rural communities. 

Slate Barn Arts is hoping to bring theatre, comedy, magic and music to the 18th century farm building in Glemham Road, Sweffling, but needs to carry out structural work to bring the venue up to standard. 

This includes repairs to the roof, weatherproofing and insulation, as well as work to the backstage area and the provision of toilets.

Tommy Campe and Hatty Ashton during rehearsals in Slate Barn.

Tommy Campe and Hatty Ashton during rehearsals in Slate Barn. - Credit: Archant

In the long term, accommodation could also be provided on-site. 

Amy Gibbons, who runs the barn with her sister Esther and partner Sam Gaulier, said her father Richard, who owns the farm, bequeathed the barn as a gift to create an arts venue similar to The Cut in Halesworth, which was founded by Ms Gibbons’ uncle James Holloway. 

She added: “My uncle James Holloway founded The Cut in Halesworth so there was always a history of my family wanting to support the arts and create opportunities in rural communities, to get people to work in theatre and do other artistic events to connect communities.”

 

Iain Gibbons during rehearsals in Slate Barn.

Iain Gibbons during rehearsals in Slate Barn. - Credit: Archant

Her family are all actively involved in the arts, including setting up festivals, while Ms Gibbons’ other sister, Polly, is a jazz singer. 

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An event is due to take place at the barn on April 16 to help towards the fundraising effort entitled The Barn Revue, featuring bands and DJs, but money is also coming from other sources, including The Arts Council and sponsors. 

“It is really hard to access good quality theatre in Suffolk. We have this space where we create and rehearse and we invite international artists to come here. 

“It is impossible for some people to access theatre unless they go to the Edinburgh Festival, so we wanted to bring it here by setting up the barn,” Ms Gibbons added. 

Esther Gibbons outside Slate Barn

Esther Gibbons outside Slate Barn - Credit: Archant

Doors for The Barn Revue open at 6.30pm with the event starting at 7.30pm with performances from The Afrika Jambo Band, DJ Precise, Mancini, Wellybootleg and Phatos Philos.  

There will also be a bar, hot dogs and snacks. Tickets are £15 or £12 for concessions.

To book, email info@slatebarnarts.com.