Queens Park Centre – Management Committee
Queens Park Centre is a charity that opened in 1980 in the former Queens Park School,where it is still situated. Originally funded by Buckinghamshire County Council it was run for many years by its first Director, Malcolm Thackwray. From the outset,great importance was placed on ‘Arts for All’. A range of arts and crafts workshops were set up on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, an ethos which still resonates at the Centre today. Volunteer support was also welcomed and tutors with expertise, skills and enthusiasm ran weekly arts and crafts workshops for the benefit of children and adults alike. This meant that affordable opportunities and ‘hands on’ fun sessions have been continually available to people from Aylesbury and beyond for over 30 years.
In time, the ‘Limelight Theatre’ was added to the Centre, an intimate 120 seater theatre which has attracted numerous superb acts and productions over the years including Eddie Izzard, Lee Evans, Shaun Hughes, Jo Brand and bands such as Show of Hands, John Otway and Theatre Companies including Hull Truck and Frantic Assembly.The Limelight also has a strong history of supporting in house and community productions. In 2011, the Centre revived it’s very popular annual Pantomime with’ Jack & the Beanstalk’.
That the Centre survived when County Council funding was withdrawn in 1998 was remarkable and largely due to the hard work and commitment of the hundreds of supporters determined to keep it going. The Centre was also fortunate to have some financial support from Aylesbury Vale District Council and local educational trust, Hardings. They provided,and continue to give, much needed annual core funding, although about 75% of income comes from workshop fees and ticket sales.
In 1998 the Centre became independent and a Company Limited by Guarantee named Queens Park Arts Centre Ltd. However with no security of tenure on the site and adjoining former school land being developed for housing an ambitious fundraising campaign was launched and £325,000 was raised by the deadline in 2009 to buy the freehold. Funding in excess of £200,000 has since been secured for the Stage 1 of the Refurbishment Project. This project included structural repairs and improvements to the external façade of the Centre to ensure that it is watertight and energy efficient. This included extensive repairs to the roof, windows, pebble-dashing, drains and guttering,chimneys, roof windows and flat roofs. In addition, replacement external signage,new integrated box office and website, new Centre logo and redesigned brochure and refurbished theatre seating. The Refurbishment Project is vital to ensure that the external appearance and its facilities reflect the quality of the activities inside the Centre.
Stage 2 of the Refurbishment project included repairs and improvements to the inside of the building. Funding is now being sought for a re-development of the under-utilised part of the site, which will further enhance the creative opportunities of the Centre.
In the last decade, the Centre has greatly increased the number of weekly workshops and now offers over 70 sessions a week. Many of which are drop in pay as you go. It has also introduced regular workshops for children and longer length courses for adults during the holidays and increased the opportunities for local hirers to use the facilities. There is now a well-established and successful annual Art & Craft Fair, as well as a popular pantomime and a May Maker's Fair taking place each year.
As a charity with a huge breadth of programme on offer and commitment to affordable arts for all Queens Park Arts Centre and the Limelight Theatre remains the creative hub of Aylesbury and a much valued community resource.
Queens Park Centre
Phone: 01296 424332
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