Former church is given a new lease of life with grant

Fran Castle and Allie Walton-Robson with their exciting plans for Headway ArtSpace.
Fran Castle and Allie Walton-Robson with their exciting plans for Headway ArtSpace.

A former church and listed building is to be given a new lease of life as a centre for the creative arts, thanks to a funding boost.

Headway ArtSpace project in Blyth has been awarded £46,145 from Coastal Communities Coastal Revival Fund to kickstart the regeneration of the former United Reformed Church on Waterloo Road into a new arts and cultural centre.

The iconic building will become a state-of-the-art facility, giving it a new lease of life, encouraging new use and offering engaging creative and cultural opportunities for the whole community, in particular those who get the least opportunity to participate.

Creative director Alison Walton-Robson said: “Headway Arts are very proud to be one of only 77 successful projects described as ‘iconic’ in the UK.

“We are very proud to be at the forefront of local regeneration and have our valuable work recognised and supported by government.

“Our dedicated and talented team at Headway Arts have worked hard towards this fantastic result for Blyth. We are over the moon.”

The aim is to create an inspiring and inclusive cultural resource where everyone is welcome, with an exciting spectrum of participatory projects, performances, workshops, courses and training and other community events.

Future developments will see outstanding multi-use facilities, including exhibition space, theatre and arts studios, meeting and conference space for use by the local community, partners organisations, resident artists and visitors from this country and abroad.

Headway Arts works with groups across Europe sharing good practice using the arts in community engagement, educational development and social inclusion.

Headway’s multi award winning work was recently also shortlisted for a Northumberland Business Award for Creative Industry.

ArtSpace has been accredited as a One Awards Centre and a new project sees the company leading the development of a pan European accreditation framework.

An alternative ‘fringe festival’ is being planned for the Tall Ships event next summer and working with local and visiting artists, musicians and volunteers to create an arts trail, arts market, live performance, music and maritime themed workshops - something a little bit different for all the family and visitors to the town.

Alison added: “There is still lots of work to do to reach our goal, if anyone would like to get involved or can offer support or sponsorship we would love to hear from them.”

Anyone who can help can email or call (01670) 351962.