New look for arts centre

GUITAR gods, rockers and aspiring comedians are just some of the people catered for at the newly refurbished Letchworth Arts Centre – or LAC for short. The centre, previously known as The Place, reopens on January 8 with an ambitious programme of workshop

GUITAR gods, rockers and aspiring comedians are just some of the people catered for at the newly refurbished Letchworth Arts Centre - or LAC for short.

The centre, previously known as The Place, reopens on January 8 with an ambitious programme of workshops for children and adults.

This will be followed by a full gallery and events programme starting on February 23.

The £300,000 refurbishment, financed by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation which is also splitting the running costs with North Hertfordshire District Council, includes a new entrance in the Arcade, lifts, disabled toilets and improved exhibition and workshop space on two floors.


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The café is under new management and will be open initially for six days a week, offering a wide range of food as well as coffee, tea, soft drinks and something stronger.

People are already signing up for courses including the Rockskool and Guitar Gods sessions for young musicians, Arts Award classes which give young people a qualification similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and how to turn a hobby into a qualification in visual arts and crafts.

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The future of television looks safe with two courses aimed at aspiring comedians and sitcom writers while other subjects cover art, drama, creative writing and making jewellery. The arts centre will be providing activities for children as young as six months old.

About 40 volunteers are supporting the work of Maria Iredale, arts development manager for LAC, and Linda Carson, operations manager. They range in age from 14 to 74 and will be helping with the extensive programme of events and exhibitions that come on stream on February 23.

The launch will be followed by a month-long celebration of activities in Letchworth GC including the first North Herts Book Festival, which kicks off on March 1. Several events will be held at the arts centre covering lunchtimes, evenings and weekends.

The arts centre now has three exhibition areas and in the next few months will be showing work by nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists covering architecture, animation, performance, digital arts, fashion, photography, painting and product design.

During the evenings and at the weekends the arts centre will host a range of events for young people and adults, including music, performance and comedy on Fridays and Saturdays.

"We really have got something for everyone and it is a most exciting programme," said Cllr Trisha Gibbs, the council's portfolio holder responsible for arts and culture.

"The council is committed to working with Letchworth Arts Centre to make creative arts a valued part of people's lives. The new facilities make that much easier to achieve."

Stuart Kenny, director general of the Heritage Foundation, said: "Over the years, the Foundation has invested many hundreds of thousands of pounds in the arts centre premises and in contributing to its running costs.

"I am confident that with our latest investment, and under the dynamic leadership of Maria, Letchworth Arts Centre will now truly fulfil its potential.

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