Shaftesbury Arts Centre launches its autumn fundraising programme next week.
Each year, thousands of locals and visitors attend shows, events and exhibitions at the Bell Street performance and gallery space. But not all residents are aware that the Arts Centre is staffed entirely by volunteers.
Event ticket and gallery sales meet the weekly running costs of £1,500. There were 5,600 tickets sold last year. But more cash is needed for repairs and improvements.
“We need a new roof,” explained Sue Cadmore, the Director who looks after fundraising. “The drive started as the ‘Raise the Roof’ appeal but now it has become ‘Fund Our Future’. We want a building at the back of the auditorium stage to provide level access, so people in wheelchairs can be introduced on stage.”
“We also want to provide a workshop for our set builders, so that they can build off the stage,” Sue said. If the stage isn’t tied up for so long with set building then the Arts Centre could put on more shows. “We probably wouldn’t have any more of our own productions but we could have theatre companies or artists that come in on a one or two night basis,” said Sue.
“We did apply for a large grant, which was turned down,” Sue added. “We met all the criteria but there were more worthwhile projects that they funded.” Sue said that Shaftesbury Arts Centre will now submit smaller grant applications for specific elements of their overall project.
In the meantime, volunteers are planning a range of events to raise cash for the enhancements. The first is a one-off, pop-up café, inspired by the soup lunches held a few years ago. “We used to do a monthly ‘Souper Saturday’, which was very successful but gradually less people came,” said Sue. “We decided to give it a break, but we were asked to provide a café for the Fringe. It was very successful so we decided that we would try another one, on the 1st of September, as an opening event for our fundraising year,” said Sue.
If this weekend’s pop-up café proves popular, there could be more. “We might consider doing it once a quarter. Sometimes people don’t come to something that is very regular, because they get fed up or they have other things to do. I think that doing it on more of an ad-hoc basis is probably better,” said Sue.
Sue and her volunteer colleagues will be busy this week, baking for the café on Saturday. They’ll be serving homemade food between 11am and 3pm in the Arts Centre’s Phoenix Room. “There will be quiches, flans and cakes. We usually try to provide some dairy-free and gluten-free things, and items for vegetarians and possibly vegans as well.”
If you are visiting the pop-up café you could also drop off your artwork for another tried-and-tested cash generator – the silent auction of art. “We had a silent auction a few years ago, where people donated pictures that they didn’t want any more or artists donated something that they had made,” explained Sue. “Under each picture is a piece of paper where you can write your bid. That is put in an envelope, so people do not know who has put the bid in. We also record the latest bid, so people know. At the end of the week we’ll all know who has bid highest.”
Sue said the Arts Centre would love to receive donated paintings and pictures, whether donors have bought them or produced them. “Any pictures will be accepted and will be hung, as long as we have space to do so,” Sue advised. There was a good response for the last silent auction. “I think we probably had forty pictures,” Sue recalled.
You can leave your art for the silent auction throughout most of September. “We have asked for them to come in from the 1st September, during the gallery opening hours. The volunteers will take them in and note people’s names. They will be hung on the 28th of September,” said Sue. You’ll find out whether your bids have been successful when the auction period ends on 6thOctober.
The Arts Centre’s mini scarecrow competition is a new addition to the fundraising programme. They’ll be filling the foyer from Saturday 27thOctober until Sunday 4thNovember.
“The scarecrows in Motcombe inspired one of our team members. You can’t really fit big scarecrows into the Arts Centre but we thought that it might be fun for people to make mini scarecrows. We will display them in the foyer. We’re going to get people to say which one is their favourite. The result will be announced at our harvest lunch on 4thNovember,” said Sue.
And the scarecrows could be sold to raise more cash for the cause. “We may auction them, if people don’t want their scarecrows back,” said Sue.
The final fundraisers of 2018 will include a themed cabaret night with Bell Street School of Dance members and the men’s acapella singing group, The Spoonfeds, on Saturday 10th November. The Arts Centre will also host a Christmas social evening of dance, comedy and song on 7thDecember.
Shaftesbury Arts Centre now has 500 members. You can learn about the membership perks at ShaftesburyArtsCentre.org.uk. The website also gives full details of all events and activities.