A statement from Worcester Arts Workshop’s Board of Trustees:

01/09/2020

It is with great sadness that we announce that Worcester Arts Workshop will not be re-opening.  The lease will be handed back to the owners, Worcestershire County Council.

As with all arts organisations, the pandemic has brought considerations to the fore that have required us to think differently about our future.  There are a number of reasons for this decision.

  1. The character and intimacy of our building has always been one of its great strengths and attractions.  But even if we were able to open soon, public health requirements make it impossible to see how social distancing can be implemented in our small spaces, making much of our work impossible and uneconomic to continue.
  2. The building needs investment to make it fully physically inclusive and accessible, and to make it environmentally sound.  This requires a considerable fundraising campaign.  The pandemic and its aftermath will change the economic outlook of the country for a decade. Trusts and Foundations will (rightly) be working to support people, not refurbishing buildings.
  3. For some time the Board has been concerned that building running costs have meant that energy and time has had to go into generating income in-house, rather than going out to work in schools, community centres etc. This has limited our reach and impact.
  4. The building incurs costs even when standing empty, so we are currently faced with considerable expenditure and no income.

The Board has not taken this decision lightly, but only after much discussion and consideration.

Ultimately it’s the work that matters and not the building.  Indeed, since we closed we have been able to continue working with people through funding from ACE, Worcester City Council and Severn Arts – foregrounding children’s creativity in lockdown, digital classes, and working with artists of colour through our Black Lives Matter project.

All refunds, partial and full, have been made to hirers and students, all other payments settled and we anticipate the permanent closure of the building by the end of September.

Our thanks and thoughts go to the staff, volunteers and partners that have given their professional expertise to the Workshop over a long time, and especially to support the progress and impact of the last couple of years.  The decision to close the building will come as sad news but it is the only responsible decision in the circumstances.

It is the end of an era with great memories for people in the City. Over the 40+ years at Sansome Street, WAW has made a hugely positive impact on the lives of many, many people.  That’s a good legacy to leave.

Author: Eleanor Miles

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