On Sunday 10th October the Bridgwater Arts Centre was 75 years old. The first Arts Centre in the country celebrated it’s anniversary with an open day from 11am to 4pm. The bar was open , the Chandos Society had an art exhibition in the gallery , Purplespoon Catering provided a giant paella in the garden and musicians dropped in and performed throughout the day. The building was open for people to wander around to see what’s on offer from the Theatre to the Gallery to the Garden and back to the bar. As a result the place was packed with faces old and new.
First Arts Centre in England
Bridgwater Arts Centre was opened in 1946 as a space where the many different arts forms in the town could come together and meet, share works, perform, exhibit and entertain. Over the years it has hosted everything from folk to jazz to classical to punk music, exhibited local, national and international artists and staged both self written plays by local authors and national touring theatre companies, and put on comedians, poets, singer-songwriters, tribute bands, youth theatre, cabaret, you name it, they’ve done it.
Now owned and supported by Bridgwater Town Council, the Art Centre is up and running again after it’s covid closure and and has a full programme ahead of it which can be found on it’s website here.
Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, Brian Smedley, says “The Art Centre is another Bridgwater first which we are incredibly proud of and is crucial to such a creative town as ours. It’s survived 75 years despite all the odds and we need it to survive another 75..at least. But for that to happen we need people to support it and make sure it survives. The Centre needs volunteers to run it, customers to use it and promoters and performers to recognise its place as an ideal intimate venue for the creative, performance and visual arts. Drop in on Sunday 10th and have a look around. That’s how most of us got involved in the first place.”
Brian Smedley’s website Sheep Worrying tells of the years 1970-1990 and features the arts centre heavily.
Sunday 10th October- Programme
1100 doors open (bar open-gallery open -food available)
1130-1200 Voice of the People Choir in the theatre
1200 Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Leigh Redman opened the event
1205-1220 Chris Sidaway –The story of the Art Centre
1220-1300 Jazzical Swing played in the bar
Food in the garden by Purplespoon
1300-1315 Mariusz on the piano
1315-1400 Jazzical Swing
1400-1415 Phil Shepherd- A visit to the Art Centre in 1973
1415-1435 Red Smed ‘the Man, the Ukulele’
1435-1500 Yvette Staelens & Tyler
1500 Chris Burman- Chairman of Bridgwater Arts Centre
1505- 1535 Elaine Di Campo & Alan
1535- 1600 les Toutes Ensembles