The Exchange Creative Community on West Street will soon be expanding after plans to take over a former church came to fruition.
The Exchange hopes to secure a licence to occupy the building ahead of agreeing a purchase plan for Trinity Methodist Church in the coming weeks, thanks in part to the support of the local community.
Director Jo Bambrough said the news was “very exciting”.
“We are looking to agree in the next six weeks, which will see us able to do some initial work,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”
They have so far spent £15,000 on a fesibility study, helped out by community fundraising of £2,500 and match funding. They now need to raise a further £5,000 towards buying the church.
It is hoped the church can be adapted as a community arts studio and enterprise hub, project space and community cafe.
The community will have the chance to contribute ideas for the use of the church, which could include film screenings and spoken word events.
“It’s all about the energy that people in the community want to bring,” Jo said. “We are keen to support people to run their own projects and iodeas, we want the space to be used as much as possible.”
The brainchild of Jo and Beki Melrose, The Exchange CIC was born out of an idea for something different for people to have a real lifetime experience and learn new craft and art skills.
The Exchange also recently carried out a refit of its West Street premises to incorporate a community cafe.
It held its first ever West End Creative Gathering on Friday, giving local people the chance to discuss ideas for creative uses for the centre.
“There’s a number of people doing creative things and raising the bar in the West End at the moment so we are looking at how we can work more strategically together,” Jo said.
“We are trying to provide an infrastructure for that to thrive, through premises and resources and training.
“We have got the potential to move things forward in an interesting way.”
The Exchange is currently running the Studio Collective– pop-up artists studios in Morecambe Arndale with 14 artists working out of the old Argos unit, and it is hoped this idea can be expanded in the new premises.
“We are hoping to invest in people’s sustainable enterprise ideas,” Jo added. “If people have a credible idea for us to invest in, we are really keen to find people that might want to occuipy some of the space we have.”
The Exchange also plans to open a tool library at the cafe in the near future, giving people the chance to hire household tools and also learn basic DIY skills.