Smiths Row to be wound up after ‘fighting losing battle’ with funding

Smiths Row, which left its Cornhill home in 2015, has announced it is to be wound up Picture: GREGG

Smiths Row, which left its Cornhill home in 2015, has announced it is to be wound up Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Archant

An educational arts charity in Bury St Edmunds is to be wound up after more than 40 years of serving the community.

Smiths Row, which has been based at the town’s Guildhall since April 2016, has announced it is to close down after the board said the organisation was “fighting a losing battle” with funding.

In a statement, Paul Scarlett, chairman, said that Smiths Row was competing on a “far from level playing field” due to the current grant regime.

The organisation, which was previously based at the Cornhill, had most recently launched a ‘Mind the Gap’ project, which celebrated the hidden histories of families whose lives were shaped by the railway in Bury.

The organisation, which was founded in 1972, has provided a resource for artists, and audiences through exhibitions, commissions, education, events and training across the east of England.

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Mr Scarlett said: “Like many other organisations, we have been running on small scale funding bids to keep going.

“The current project, Mind the Gap, which was based around the Railway in Bury St Edmunds, has now come to its end.

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“The board had therefore asked the director for a very realistic assessment of the likely funding streams going forward in the current climate, in order to assess the organisational viability in the short to medium term.

“We concluded that the current grant regime now favours either very large organisations, too big to fail, or small sole trading artists and creatives with low overheads and lower thresholds of sustainability.

“A very small organisation, like Smiths Row has become, was now fighting on a far from level playing field, making it increasingly difficult to get successful bids let alone ones that are at a level that can sustain our business model going forward for more than a few months at a time.

“As a result the board have reluctantly concluded that at the end of the period of Mind the Gap we will look to wind up the organisation.

“It is very sad that, after more than 40 years as an arts organisation, we have to close down but we all felt that we were fighting a losing battle and that the stress on the individuals involved pursuing very small amounts of money is not good for them or indeed Smiths Row itself.”

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