Local community invited to pledge support for arts centre project

St Clements Church in Ipswich.

St Clements Church in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Progress in plans for sailor’s church arts centre

Plans to turn St Clement’s Church, close to the Ipswich Waterfront, into a new arts and performance centre are making good progress.

Ipswich has a shortage of medium-sized venues, somewhere that falls between pubs and the much larger Corn Exchange and Ipswich Regent.

St Clement’s could become that venue.

St Clement is the patron saint of sailors, having been tied to an anchor and drowned in the Black Sea, and so is appropriate for a church close to the docks.

Redundant St Clement’s, Ipswich in Star Lane is at the centre of plans to turn it into a new arts centre, closely linked to the university and the college, both of which are developing nearby.

The church has been redundant 30 years and following a public meeting in May, a group was formed to turn it into the new performance and arts venue -The plan for the new Ipswich Arts Centre includes representatives from UCS and arts organistions, and there is support from Suffolk New College too.

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On Wednesday there was a public consultation evening for local people to find out more about the plans, and to get involved.

Carol Gant, arts curator at UCS, said: “It went well.

“We had 50 people turn up on what wasn’t a very nice evening, and there was a lot of interest from the community and businesses.

“We had groups, and organisations and individual artists. We are interested in talking to people about what they would like to see here.

“We already have our change of use application in.

“We want to do some more work, with the idea of some events next spring. Suffolk New College is very supportive.

“The church really comes alive when we have it open.

“This is such a great opportunity for the town and area, and we need people to pledge their support, on the new website.

“We need to show there is a need for the mew arts centre and the community are behind it.”

The new website was launched on Wednesday, it is; www.ipswichartscentre,co.uk

St Clement’s has already has some limited use for events, but some further improvements and building work is needed to take it forward.

Earlier, in September, UCS MA art students held their art exhibition in the open space, which proved very successful.

Longer term, some £750,000 is needed to be raised to take the project forward.

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