BOURNEMOUTH’S only community art studio will have to close unless it can find new premises.
Artisan, which is currently based at the former Malvern Day Centre in Moordown, was initially given a month’s notice by the council to find another venue.
Director of the studio, Pauline Stanley, said this had now been extended to three months but a desperate search is on to find a new home for the centre, which provides art, craft, and textile courses and workshops for around 150 people every week, including stroke survivors, people with mental health conditions, and children who are home educated.
“We make a real difference to people’s lives and provide an important and valuable service to the community of Bournemouth – a service that the council are not providing,” Pauline said.
“The studio is three years old and is popular, well-respected and sustainable without funding. We work in a non-judgemental way where everyone is accepted.
“Art, by its nature, is therapeutic. It helps people heal and get their confidence back. If we can’t find a new home, it will devastate the lives of everyone we support.”
Pauline said the council had not offered the studio alternative premises. The building where it is currently based has been mostly vacant for the past six years, and the council is considering plans to turn it back into a day centre for dementia care.
Pauline said the new studio would require a space of approximately 225m2, with disabled access, parking and toilets. A premises near central Bournemouth and accessible by bus is preferred, as well as onsite parking.
“I am working very hard to try and find new premises,” Pauline said. “The council sent me emails of partners and people who may help us find new premises, but none of their contacts have proved fruitful. We need people to help us look for somewhere as we work with some very vulnerable and fragile people who rely on this service and would be distressed if it had to close down.
“One of our volunteers has a chronic mental health condition, and this centre has totally changed the quality of her life. For one man, who has Asperger’s, this is his only social contact. There are also a lot of older people who come here who don’t get out of the house otherwise.
David Vitty, Service Director for Adult Social Care at Bournemouth council, said: "We are currently looking at the future use of First Point Plus (the building that Artisan currently use) for the provision of adult social care services.
"With continuing financial pressures on adult social care, the council needs to make sure it utilises its property portfolio in the best way to assist with achieving not only financial savings but also provide the best quality environment for our care and support services.
"We are working closely with Artisan Community Art to support in finding suitable alternative accommodation and helping to explore potential solutions both with partner organisations and in the local property market. The tenant will be notified as soon as a decision has been made on the future use of the building and notice served."
Anyone who can help Pauline find a new premises is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org