Group celebrate as second phase of community project delivers new cinema

Darlington and Stockton Times: from back row: Dawn Clarkson and John Smith from Leyburn Arts Centre Ltd, Jane Ritchie MBE from the Elm House Trust, and John Blackie, Leader of Richmondshire District Council from back row: Dawn Clarkson and John Smith from Leyburn Arts Centre Ltd, Jane Ritchie MBE from the Elm House Trust, and John Blackie, Leader of Richmondshire District Council

A CINEMA screen is the latest addition to a project to create a social hub for residents of a North Yorkshire town.

The Leyburn Arts Centre has, in the last year, transformed the former St Peter and St Paul Primary School house into a space for community groups and the latest development means the town has a film venue six years after the closure of the former Elite Cinema

Lead director for the centre, Dawn Clarkson, said it had only been made possible thanks to local funding.

“We received a grant of £36,848 from the communities opportunity fund from Richmondshire District Council and £36,000 from The Elm House Trust," she said.

“Without this level of funding the project would never have gone ahead, and we would not have been able to bring all that the Old School House and the facilities it offers to the residents and visitors of Leyburn and the surrounding area."

The Old School House has been converted from a former school and now delivers a varied mix of culture, entertainment and community space.

The latest films will be shown on Thursdays and Fridays, musical events already regularly feature on Saturdays, and there is also a weekly dance school.

Rooms are available for hire and are already being used for rehearsal space, a slimming club, portrait painters, Pilates, jewellery making.

Jane Ritchie MBE, from the Elm House Trust, said: “I am delighted the Elm House Trust has played a key role in establishing this outstanding Arts and Community Centre, which I hope will be of great value to young and elderly residents alike.”

Ms Clarkson said there are also plans to open a University of the Third Age branch at the venue, stage some Swaledale Festival events and launch an adults' gardening club in the venue's garden, which would generate produce for the centre’s café.

She said: "Isolation in rural areas is a major issue and it is hoped some of the activities at the centre will go some way to addressing that."

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