Somerset

Frome toilets could become art cafe

The disused toilet block
Image caption The toilet block has been boarded up since 2007
Artist's impression of how the art cafe would look
Image caption The disabled toilet would be turned into a food kiosk and the four other cubicles into mini galleries

Disused public toilets in a Somerset town could be turned into an art cafe if residents can raise enough funds.

The toilet block in Frome currently houses a series of glass blocks containing historic local artefacts, created by a local artist in 2000.

But Frome resident Katy Duke said the display was deteriorating and that she came up with the art cafe idea to both protect it and include more exhibits.

It is hoped the £11,000 needed can be raised through a crowdfunding website.

The Frome project, Loop De Loop, would see the block turned into four micro-galleries and a local food kiosk. The glass block artwork already there - the Singers Links - would also be repaired.

The Singers Links were created for a millennium project by local artist Helga Watkins-Baker.

The glass blocks contain artefacts from former Frome businesses, including Singers, which have since closed or moved away.

Ms Duke, who runs a thermal blinds company in Frome, said: "When I saw that the Singers Links were deteriorating - I was worried that we might lose a part of Frome's history, so we came up with an idea to re-use the building in order to protect them.

"I realised the district council could demolish the building and the glass blocks would also be lost forever."

'Barren and mediocre'

She said she turned to crowdfunding after a couple of funding bids were turned down.

Sites like Spacehive allow the cost of community projects to be met through online contributions.

Anyone who pledges money on the website only gets charged when projects hit their funding target.

Ms Duke said: "We are a really close-knit, creative community, and I'm confident that local people will to help make this project happen by contributing small amounts."

The project has already attracted the support of resident Kevin McCloud who hosts Channel 4's Grand Designs show and has contributed £300.

He said: "Public space needs creativity, it needs art and it needs local involvement in order for it to thrive.

"Without these things, the spaces between buildings - the public areas that ought to be where we flourish as social creatures - will remain barren and mediocre.

"It's human imagination, not concrete and tarmac, that make our towns and cityscapes enjoyable places."

The Loop De Loop project has until 30 April to raise the money.

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