Directors share vision to turn former music shop into hive of community

The former West End Music has been converted into a new community space

The Hive: L-R Sarah Nkuwga, Monika Puchala, Cad Taylor. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A former Ipswich music shop is set to take on a new life celebrating local diversity and creativity as a community space. 

It is the vision of directors Cad Taylor, Bopper Rankin, Sarah Nkugwa and Monika Puchala, who hope to raise £18,998 to turn the empty West End Music shop on Norwich Road into a ‘vital’ community space open to everyone.  

The Hive, as it is now renamed, will offer a host of activities, workshops, events, exhibitions and podcasts, as well as facilities such as a dark room and a place to screen films and installations.

West End Music in Norwich Road, Ipswich, is closing down

West End Music in Norwich Road, Ipswich, is closing down - Credit: Paul Eagle

 Cad Taylor, who is also BBC Radio Suffolk's communities manager, said: “It’s a flexible space. It’s about the different communities coming in, contributing and bringing their own ideas about what can happen here.  

“It’s really important that they are part of the decision making."

Cad said Norwich Road has had a bad reputation over the years, but being one of the most diverse streets in Ipswich, hopes that this space will bring the community together.

The former West End Music has been converted into a new community space

The former West End Music store in Ipswich has been converted into a new community space on Norwich Road called The Hive - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown


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“It’s a very diverse street naturally and it gets huge amounts of derogatory terms which I think has a lot to do with perception,” she said. 

“There have been issues on the street before and those moments then become representative about what the street is like. In reality those things happen everywhere. 

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“Norwich Road represents lots of diversity, lots of different languages and for some people they don’t feel comfortable. So, a social space on that street is incredibly positive."

The money raised is vital in getting the empty shop up and running and ensure that it is accessible to all – for example fitting a toilet on the ground floor. 

Sarah Nkuwga, Monika Puchala, and Cad Taylor outside The Hive

Sarah Nkuwga, Monika Puchala, and Cad Taylor outside The Hive - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

People are encouraged to join the community board and think about ideas for projects which could be hosted at the Hive.  

Director Bopper Rankin, who is owner of Freedom Sounds, shared his own ideas about what the space could be used for.

He said: "What I hope the Hive could be very useful for is basic computer training for a lot of people who may not know how to use computers.

"We'd also like to hold music and cooking workshops, as well as community celebrations." 

Finally, Cad stresses that this is more than a community hub.

“We’re not just saying it’s a community space, it’s about art and culture. We want to bring people together with art, culture and projects which bring out people’s creativity,” she said. 

It is hoped that the new community space will be open around the middle to late October this year. 

To donate, click here, or to share your thoughts about the space email usethehive@gmail.com 

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