New Developments Revealed

Today (Thursday 16 February) the Corn Exchange and Greenham Common Trust announced exciting development plans to be realised over the next 18 months and we’ve got a bit more information to whet your appetite…

As you are probably aware, Greenham Common Trust is a unique and vital support for many projects and organisations locally. The success of the growing Greenham Business Park provides the financial resources for the Trust to distribute millions of pounds every year to good causes, and the arts has always been an integral part of their vision.

The Corn Exchange has a long-standing relationship with the Trust and over the last few years, it has enabled us to develop as a leading arts organisation, delivering an exciting range of activities. It has garnered good support from Arts Council England too; enabling us to present the free outdoor performances we stage in and around Newbury every year as well as launching one of the UKs only Outdoor Arts Creation Centres, 101, on the Business Park.

However, our relationship is continuing to grow and we’re pleased to be able to share those plans with you today. 

The first development is a new £1.7m gallery, visual arts and makers’ studios and caféfacility which will open in spring 2018. To be located by the entrance of the Business Park, the new building will become a central hub, providing a home to some of the finest artists and makers in the country. It will enable us to establish an exciting new destination venue for the district, attracting huge numbers of visitors to the area and will be a real hive of activity.

Later in the year, we are planning to appoint a curator to bring a broad range of artists to work in the studios, as well as developing an interesting range of activities in the pop-up gallery space, which will also host a series of courses and classes. Greenham Common Trust’s support and vision for this development will secure the future of visual arts and crafts locally and we’re hugely excited to be working with them to achieve this.

John Brazendale, Chair of Open Studios shared his thought with us: “These are exciting times for the visual arts, the very idea of having a purpose built facility at Greenham Business Park is both forward looking and reassuring at a time when there is so much uncertainty elsewhere. It is wonderful news!”

If you want to see some more of the architect’s drawings, you can find those at the bottom of this page.

But the good news doesn’t stop there… in September we will be launching a Newbury-based Learning Centre to house our Get Involved activities. At the moment we do quite a lot of that in various locations but with a dedicated town-centre base we’ll be able to increase the range of activities that we do and we plan to develop and launch a series of activities for under-5s as well as a bigger Youth Theatre programme. It will also be the home to Newbury Youth Theatre as well as our existing Youth Dance programmes. Over the next few months we’ll be working hard to secure a site and, once we’ve done that, we’ll be letting you know where it is and what you can expect to find happening there.

John Darvell from NOCTURN dance told us: “I’m thrilled and excited at the dance opportunities the new Learning Centre will bring to our local area. As a rural professional dance company we come across the same challenge - working in fit for purpose, easily accessible, affordable dance spaces. This comes just at right time and will not only support the activities we’ve built with the Corn Exchange but it opens up new possibilities too.”

Chris Boulton, the Chief Executive for Greenham Common Trust, said “we’re delighted to be able to offer financial support for these exciting new projects which will benefit those living in Newbury and the wider community. The town centre development will allow the Corn Exchange to seek significant national funding in order to support the increased activities provided by the venue. This is good news for residents, artists, community groups and for local businesses as we attract more visitors to our town. It will put Newbury firmly on the map as one of the UK’s leading visitor attractions for the arts.”

With over 120,000 people attending our activities, events, film screenings and performances over the last year, these plans will support us in our ambition to reach over 150,000 people by 2022. The support of Greenham Common Trust is enabling arts and culture to thrive in the District and these developments are going to be of huge benefit to our communities.

The good news is tinged with sadness, however, as we have made the difficult decision to close New Greenham Arts at the end of the summer. It’s been a huge part our success over the last 15 years but the extent of the repair and renovation that would be required to continue to use it as a professional arts venue would require investment of more than £1 million and that doesn’t represent value for money for either Greenham Common Trust or the Corn Exchange.

Both Greenham Common Trust and the Corn Exchange remain committed to providing all the facilities currently delivered at New Greenham Arts in one way or another. The first two developments replace some of those core activities and over the next few years we’ll be working hard to secure a permanent studio theatre. Once there is news to share with you about that we’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know.

The closure of New Greenham Arts does mean the New Greenham Tandoori will stop operating from the building from the summer and, if they want to, we’ll be working with the resident visual artists to find a new studio following the buildings’ closure too. 

If you have any questions about these developments, you can get in touch directly with our Co-Directors, Katy and Grant, by sending them an email to director@cornexchangenew.co.uk