A golden future is on the horizon for Kirkham Henry Performing Arts Centre following the launch of a new £150,000 project designed to build on its success of the past 25 years.
Thousands of students have already benefitted from the tireless work of Angela Kirkham and her army of teachers since their much-loved headquarters were opened on Horsemarket Road, Malton, in 1989.
To celebrate its silver anniversary, a new Legacy Building Project has been unveiled with the aim of putting some fizz back into the former pop factory to ensure it can meet the growing needs of its dance, music and theatre students over the next quarter of a century.
Over the years, the building has become tired and, at times, struggles to cope with the demands placed upon it by its 400 students, who range in age from two to 93 years old.
It lacks adequate room to accommodate the growing number of male pupils, there are no facilities for people with disabilities, and the shortage of flexible studios, changing rooms, and toilets mean it is also limiting the use by other groups during the week.
But now Angela Kirkham and members of the Community Interest Company are looking to raise the funds for a new two-storey extension which will provide two new studios, a range of changing rooms and storage for the rafts of Ryedale Youth Theatre costumes which are currently housed in every nook and cranny of the centre.
The two existing main studios will also be refurbished and insulated, to keep running costs down, and have a new covering to the sprung floors, while the centre itself will also be given a facelift to reflect the achievements of its graduates, many of whom have gone on to work professionally.
Planning permission has already been secured for the improvements.
“It is about leaving a legacy for the community so it carries on for the next 25 years, ” said Angela. “It will help with the quality of what we will be able to do and to offer to our students.”
“We will be able to sort the timetable out, for example, and make it that much better. At the moment, it’s like a British Rail timetable on a Saturday because we have six studio spaces being used.
“It will make it so much easier and we feel we could do extra work to raise the standards even more without having to worry where everyone is going.”
She added: “I go to places where other facilities are unbelievable because they have been helped by local councils or whatever, but their standards are nowhere near what we are doing here. It’s a bit upsetting when you see.”
There would also be scope, she added, to open up the centre to other community groups. Angela and co-founder Jennie Henry gifted the business to the children of Ryedale in 2010, turning it over to a Community Interest Company (CIC), a not-for-profit organisation which sees all profits ploughed back into the business and allows them to apply for grant funding.
Now the directors of the CIC have been charged with finding the £150,000 needed to help the centre to reach its Gold Anniversary with facilities its students and teachers can be proud of. They intend to do this through sponsorship, grant funding, fundraising drives and recruiting people to help with the building work, among other initiatives.
Angela said: “We need our facilities to match the quality of our teaching and to complement the standards of work that we do.”