Stroud Town Council is backing a new community trust which hopes to take over the running of the Subscription Rooms as an arts and entertainment hub.
The council has agreed to provide a grant of up to £10,000 to the emerging “Stroud Trust” group to enable them to develop a business plan for the arts venue.
The Town Council has also agreed that it would take on the freehold of the venue to ensure that it remains in public ownership.
Earlier this year Stroud District Council, which owns and runs the venue, revealed that the Sub Rooms’ future is under review following cuts in government funding.
It is considering three options: retain the venue as it is within Stroud District Council; dispose of the freehold or offer a lease; or closure and selling the venue on the open market.
The Town Council hosted a public meeting where people were overwhelming in favour of either the district council or town council holding the freehold of the venue and offering the leasehold to a community interest group or trust.
Organisations have to submit business plans to the district council by mid-September.
A group of interested people, including those who have extensive experience running arts venues, met at the town council meeting on the Sub Rooms. Two groups that made Expressions of Interest have combined forces to create the “Stroud Trust”. It should be noted that other organisations may submit bids and Stroud District Council will make the final decision on which if any to accept.
Stroud Trust’s vision is to create a community-led arts and leisure hub for Stroud to energise the local arts, culture and leisure economy and ensure an integrated, strategic approach. Working in partnership with both the Town and District councils, local people and other stakeholders to secure assets for continued community benefit.
Stroud Trust group members are: Julie Ellison (Social Enterprise Consultant/Lecturer/Project Manager), Jess McQuail (CEO of an NGO and lead on the Stroud Lido development working group); Julie Howe (Brand & Design Consultant and co-director of Stroud Fringe); Lucy Vincent (Consultant in Crisis Communication); John Bloxsom (campaign manager for David Drew MP) and Andy Woods (founding director of Gloucester’s Guildhall and Bromsgove’s Artrix, and currently freelance cultural programmer).
Stroud Town Mayor Kevin Cranston said the town council was supporting the “trust” because it was the strongest, most credible option.
“They are thinking about the whole arts scene in Stroud with the Sub Rooms at its heart,” said Councillor Cranston.
“From the beginning the town council has supported the option that the Sub Rooms remain in public ownership and run by a trust or organisation that has experience in this field.
“This is what we did with Lansdown Hall. We took over the building, ensured that it was refurbished and made into a better venue and work closely with the trust which manages it. The result is a vibrant and well-used venue and we believe that the same can be done with the Sub Rooms and the “Stroud Trust”.”