Former Grade-II listed church in Forest of Dean to be transformed after receiving £180k

The Wesley Community and Arts Centre on Belle Vue Road
The Wesley Community and Arts Centre on Belle Vue Road -Credit:Cinderford Town Council

A former Grade-II listed church in the Forest of Dean is set to be transformed into a community arts centre after receiving a major cash injection. Cinderford Town Council was awarded £180,000 by Arts Council England to refurbish the Wesley Community and Arts Centre on Belle Vue Road.

The funding will be used by the local authority to make some upgrades to the building including an accessible stage; lighting, audio and sound works; an accessible catering kitchen; improving facilities; and carrying out redecoration works. It will also be used to upgrade the toilets and make them accessible, and make energy efficiency improvements to the venue.

Cinderford Town Council is one of eight South West organisations to receive a cash grant through Art Council England's Capital Investment Programme, which is aimed at boosting cultural organisations around the country.

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Bridgwater Carnival - the oldest of its kind in the UK - received £650,000 to redevelop its semi-derelict carnival centre, while Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council was awarded £450,000 to improve the physical and digital presence of Poole Museum.

Devon's Burton Art Gallery and Museum, in Bideford, also secured £120,000 to boost its environmental credentials and invest in digital.

Phil Gibby, South West area director for Arts Council England, said: “It's not just bricks and mortar - with better buildings comes improved accessibility, new technology and a reduced environmental footprint. This public funding comes at a crucial time and matters more than ever to staff, volunteers and visitors. We can't wait to see plans take shape.”

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, minister for arts, heritage and libraries, added: "Cultural venues enrich our lives, and it’s vital that their infrastructure matches the excellence of the creative work that goes on inside them.

"Our funding is helping both to create new venues and to adapt existing ones to make them more accessible, helping to deliver the Government’s plan to make sure that everyone, no matter where they live or what their background, has access to excellent, life-changing cultural opportunities.”

Arts Council England funded projects in the South West

  • Bridgwater Carnival, Somerset: South West Regional Carnival Centre, £650,000 (2023/24)

  • BCP Council (Poole Museum), Dorset: temporary gallery and art and design gallery, £450,000 (2023/24)

  • The Plough Arts Centre, Devon: visitor experience, £245,000 (2024/25)

  • Cinderford Town Council, Gloucestershire: The Wesley Community & Arts Centre in the Forest of Dean, £180,000 (2024/25)

  • Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Devon: a sustainable museum, £120,000 (2023/24)

  • Theatre Alibi, Exeter: equipment to transform old church into community venue, £115,000 (2024/25)

  • Swindon Dance, Wiltshire: facilities development, £100,000 (2024/25)

  • Travaux Sauvages t/a Wildworks, Cornwall: portable and sustainable equipment for theatre. Truro and Falmouth, £100,000 (2024/25)