Thetford Arts Centre in need of volunteers to re-open

An arts group which mysteriously closed its doors earlier this year could be back up and running in a matter of months if enough volunteers can be found.

Following a series of meetings, a new committee is now in place which hopes to resurrect Thetford Arts Centre in August. Members however have warned they will have no choice but to close it permanently if enough volunteers do not come forward.

New chairman Gary Maynard said at least 10 people are needed to commit to one four-hour session per week and must be willing to train for their food hygiene certificate, which is a legal requirement.

“Volunteers would be running the cafe which is a big part of the income of the centre,” he said. “We need people to maintain it because most of us on the committee work full time so can’t commit to working during the day.

“We need to have at least two people there at any one time for health and safety and insurance purposes. It would be open from 10am to 1pm with half an hour each side for preparation so we need people to commit.”

The arts centre initially closed its doors in April this year with a message on its website which simply said: “The Thetford Arts Centre would like to thank all those who have helped us in the past.

“It is with regret that we inform you that the doors to the Thetford Arts Centre have now closed and will not be running any more.”

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Former chairman Peter Beaumont has now said the committee disbanded following the resignation of former administrator Sandy Beaumont, when the role became too much for one person.

He said: “The success of the place was the cause of us having to shut it down. The workload became too much to cope with and we couldn’t get anybody else to help.

“Sandy was the heart of the group. We had 15 months of exhibitions booked in advance and 20 exhibits at any one time so you can imagine we were in better shape than we had ever been. You think if you show the thing is going well other people will come forward but they didn’t. I hate to see the place closed because I was passionate about it but nobody else was.”

My Maynard said the new committee had to be “quite serious” about overcoming obstacles in getting the centre reopened, which included finding an administrator to look after the running of the centre, covering start-up costs, and finding enough people to help out.

He added: “The arts centre was an important part of some people’s day. They would go to have a coffee and a chat about what’s going on and the local artists would display their work. Now, at the moment, there isn’t anywhere so it would be good to get it going again.”

Other committee members now include vice chairman Paul Render, treasurer Carol Perkins, secretary Jayne Trett and Pat Balaam.

To find out more or to volunteer, write to Kings House, Kings Street, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2AP, or email by July 1.

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