Suffolk

Ipswich Arts Centre plan backed by borough council

St Clement's Church, Ipswich
Image caption The arts centre could open up as a pop-up venue while fundraising continues

A disused Ipswich church that dates back to the 15th Century could be given a new lease of life as an arts centre.

St Clement's Church, on Star Lane, has been closed since 1979 but a campaign was launched two years ago to convert it into an arts venue.

Ipswich Borough Council, which owns the building, has approved a change of use.

Simon Hallsworth, who is involved in the project, said: "It's one of the most beautiful spaces in the region and we intend to bring it back to life."

Image caption A new roof was built following a fire in 1985, six years after the church closed
Image caption Simon Hallsworth launched the arts centre appeal in 2014 alongside Carol Gant and Cad Taylor

Mr Hallsworth said the 250-400 capacity centre, which is being overseen by a community interest group, would fill a gap in the town.

"We're responding to a need," he said. "There's been a movement in Ipswich calling for a mid-sized venue for almost 30 years.

"We anticipate making it a very flexible space. We're trying to reconcile two aims - one is to bring the kind of acts who don't come into Ipswich, and also to allow it to be a home for a whole series of other artistic events.

"We don't want to nail ourselves to one demographic or art form."

The council said Ipswich Arts Centre could open up as a "pop-up venue" while fundraising efforts continued, ahead of more permanent building work.

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