Steering a new future for the Gardners Hall

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AN ORGANISATION aiming to create a community arts and culture centre looks to have secured the cut-price ownership of Buckhaven’s Free Gardners Hall.

But the group insists it now needs public support in its bid to transform the disused venue.

The Free Gardeners Hall Steering Group has been selected by Fife Council as its preferred bidder for the College Street building, which was available for only £2760 as part of its community ownership scheme.

The steering group has grand plans to renovate the hall over the next couple of years, including splitting it into two levels and building an extension, but its main focus is to provide high quality affordable space for any local group to use.

As part of that process the not-for-profit group is now looking for other groups which think they could use the hall.

This would lead to a committee or board being formed, made up of members from each organisation and be part of the team which will run the building and take any renovations forward.

Linda Judge, steering group secretary, told the Mail her group was delighted to have been chosen to take on ownership but insisted the hard work was only just beginning.

“It’s key for us to contact anyone who expressed an interest in the building to see if they want to join with us,” she explained.

“There were around 20 groups but only three put in bids so we want to hear from as many of them and as many other groups as possible, whether they are a Zumba class, a Brownie group or a theatre group.

“We don’t have a set number of groups in mind but we won’t exclude anyone.”

Ms Judge highlighted the main advantage of groups coming together under one roof would be that together they could create a venue Buckhaven could be proud of.

There would be the added benefit of each group being able to apply for a wide range of funding to suit its individual needs whilst enhancing the building for everyone at the same time.

For example if a theatre group was to apply for funding to buy new sound equipment it could then be used by others who may want to put on a concert.

The decision to accept the steering group’s bid is still to be ratified at this month’s Levenmouth area committee meeting and then by the local authority’s policy, finance and asset management committee but Ms Judge added the group was keen to make contact with others immediately.

She continued: “It’s exciting but scary as well.

“The potential of the building is fantastic and we want to work together with other groups and involve the community so they feel it is their building.Over the next year we want to put together a business plan and look for funding but if nobody comes forward we will just have to put our hands up.”

•Anyone interested in working with The Free Gardeners Hall Steering Group is asked to contact Ms Judge as soon as possible on 01592 591248 or by e-mailing Danalena@blueyonder.co.uk