The objective of the Fording Point project is to create a brand new cultural space in the heart of Blandford Forum. The Bere’s yard site will not only provide a space for exhibiting films, staging theatre and displaying art, but also play an important role in serving the community with many other activities as well as indirectly supporting businesses’ within the town centre.
The added attraction of the town’s museum and the Victorian garden project as part of the same site mixed with the venues own bar and landscaped garden facilities will create not only a unique site for the people of Blandford Forum, but also an interesting destination venue in its own right.
According to figures from The British Council, the creative industries are one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy. It employs over 1.8 million people and generates £56 billion per year, almost 8% of the UK’s gross added value.
With Blandford Forum effectively doubling in size over the last thirty years, there is now a strong business case for a professionally run and dedicated theatre venue showing a wide content of material including the latest movie releases as well as lending itself to all aspects of community life.
The Fording Point Committee believe that a venue should not solely be judged on ticket sales alone, but should also include the economic benefits it brings to the businesses that also surround it. A venue like the Fording Point not only helps to give a town confidence and identity, but also increases its appeal for those that live there and those who wish to visit.
There is a longstanding aspiration for a community art centre in Blandford to meet a variety of needs. The DT11 Partnership is trying to draw these strands together into a coherent proposal, and then work to see what premises could become available, and what funding could be reached or raised. At this stage nothing is ruled out (nor in) – the example of the Exchange at Sturminster Newton may or may not be like something that Blandford with nearly three times the population needs, wants or could maintain.
The draft of the Community Strategic Plan currently has the following statement – Arts and Culture. (p 20)
‘In spite of the fact that there are more artists here than in any other part of North Dorset there is no centre in which to display work or to assist with its creation or teaching. Young people lack creative stimuli of any kind. There is an urgent need for a properly equipped venue where people of all ages can both engage in and view theatre, dance, music and film as well as the visual arts. A community arts centre could have permanent but changing displays of art, sculpture etc; drop in practical art & music workshops for all ages, kids theatre workshops, young peoples issue based theatre or videos (such as the “Clean up Blandford” video) and provide outreach work with halls in the surrounding villages. Work of this nature particularly when it reaches disadvantaged groups (such as people with learning difficulties, long-term unemployed or young offenders) is valuable in developing confidence, self-esteem, pride of place and help in gaining access to further education.’
Latest News – August 2014
Outline planning permission has now been granted. The Architect’s are reviewing the plans and Jon Ivay is in the process of updating the Business Plan – further details to follow. In the meantime the DT11 Community Partnership will continue to look for funding/grant opportunities.