Why Laura’s looking ahead to what’s in store as Letchworth builds its name as a centre for the arts

Vusual arts co-ordinator Laura Dennis

Vusual arts co-ordinator Laura Dennis - Credit: Archant

The woman who has been charged with building Letchworth’s new Broadway Gallery into a major regional venue has been talking about her plans.

The former Letchworth Arts Centre in The Arcade in the town centre is being reshaped into the gallery, as part of a major shake-up which will also see the nearby Broadway Cinema take on a new role as a combined film and live performance base for the town.

The first of the projects to emerge from the first garden city’s current cultural coccoon is the gallery, and its public face is Laura Dennis.

Laura’s job title is visual arts curator, and before the gallery opens its doors for the first time in February she is working hard on creating the inaugural programme, which will feature exhibitions by internationally-renowned artists as well as local and emerging talent.

Laura boasts more than a decade of experience curating exhibitions, managing visual arts projects and commissioning new works.

She has done work with big names including Oxford University, Transport for London, Southbank Centre, and the Norwich Gallery, and in her new role will be building Letchworth’s name as a centre for painting, sculpture and photography, as well as including exhibitions of contemporary craft and design in a varied timetable.

She said: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at such an exciting time for the arts in Letchworth, and I cannot wait to open the gallery next year.

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“We have some fantastic exhibitions lined up – showing works by some incredible artists – plus a great programme of events that I am really looking forward to.”

As well as making arrangements to bring big-name touring exhibitions to the town, she is planning solo shows by local and emerging artists and also working with community groups, schools and local artists and others to help shape a calendar of workshops and events.

The gallery is part of a collection of arts spaces which are owned and managed by the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, which includes the new community museum just a couple of doors away from the gallery.

Work on transforming the arts centre is now under way, and updates are being posted online at www.buildingbroadway.com.

That website will also be tracking the progress at the landmark Eastcheap cinema building.

Work is to begin in February with the first theatre show six months later, and has been carefully planned to ensure it is in keeping with the cinema’s beautiful Art Deco design.

Dressing rooms and a stage will be added to Screen One so it can be changed from a cinema to theatre, and back, overnight, allowing it to host theatre, children’s shows, live comedy and acoustic music, as well as mainstream films.

Last week award-winning West End producer Sue Scott Davison, who lives in the town, was named as the project’s creative programmer.

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