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Triple boost for Frome’s arts and entertainment venues

THREE of Frome’s leading arts and entertainment centres have all received a major boost to cement the town’s place as one the premier towns in the country for the arts. The news comes just two weeks before the start of the Frome Festival which has announced record ticket sales.

Supporters of the Cheese and Grain, Rook Lane Arts and Frome Cinema were all celebrating as the popular venues made major announcements over their future.

Planning permission has been granted for a £500,000 investment in the Cheese and Grain. The plans, revealed by Frome Times in February, were given the go-ahead by Mendip District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday 5th June.

Rook Lane Arts has had its long-term future secured following an announcement by NVB Architects and Rook Lane Arts Trust. Working closely with community partners, NVB Architects have developed a new long-term strategic plan that integrates the arts, community events and business in this unique and cherished building in Frome.

And the Westway Cinema is to go digital with a £10,000 investment in new equipment which will ensure the cinema can continue to show all the latest blockbuster releases.

The family-run independent cinema has been using 35mm film to project films but due to this being phased out, the cinema had to raise the funds to buy the equipment needed to go digital.

At the Cheese and Grain, new meeting, training and rehearsal rooms and a new bar and café will be part of the half a million pound scheme. New toilets and a new wheelchair ramp to access the building will also be installed. The box office will also be open all day, every day and into the evening, selling tickets for events across Frome, and for events and outdoor festivals across the region.

Four or five new full-time jobs will be created.

Cllr Toby Eliot, chair of Frome Town Council’s internal affairs committee said, “Investment is always better than subsidy. Instead of propping up the Cheese and Grain, this initiative will create a truly self-sustaining community asset.”

At Rook Lane Arts, NVB Architects currently support arts and community events having invested £1million over the past ten years. Their new plan, produced in conjunction with Rook Lane Arts Trust, ensures that there will be a secure future for both the building and the events by expanding the schedule of activities, and providing much-needed further investment in the facilities to enable these new activities to take place.

Rook Lane Arts trustees will now operate as stakeholders for the building, and will continue to work closely with the arts coordinator to further develop a rich programme of arts and community activities.

Russell Lillford of the Somerset Buildings Preservation Trust said, “I only wish that the model NVB has developed could be rolled out across the country to safeguard our significant buildings with community access at its heart.”

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