A Centre for the Arts
It’s going to be a busy summer – and beyond! – at Southwold's premier entertainment venue, Southwold Arts Centre. The venue plays host to Southwold Arts Festival in June, the ever-popular Summer Theatre from July to September, the Ways With Words literary festival in November and, early next year, the Southwold and Reydon Pantomime Group.
In addition, the facilities at St Edmund’s Hall on Cumberland Road are also used by a wide selection of local societies. With the Jazz Appreciation Society, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Southwold Decorative and Fine Arts Society already involved and plans in the pipeline to establish both a youth theatre and amateur dramatics group, visitors are guaranteed to find something of interest.
Centre Director Peter Adshead is the founder of Sole Bay Arts, a charity which spearheaded the refurbishment of the former church hall and now oversees its operation as Southwold Arts Centre all year round.
After an earlier career spanning the North Sea oil industry and archaeology, Peter settled on the theatre – he was involved in stage management before training as an actor in London then moving into directing, producing and, finally joining the Jill Freud Summer Theatre Company and moving to the area.
“Ten years’ involvement with the summer theatre had shown me there was a demand for events,” he says, “and when I started looking after the hall for St Edmund’s Church, its lack of use and gradual slide into disrepair pushed me to propose the formation of the charity and the Arts Centre.
“St Edmund’s Hall has actually been home to a summer theatre season for around 80 years,” says Peter. “Southwold should be proud to host one of the very few summer repertory seasons in the country – five at the last count, I think! Not many people seem to be aware of that.”
Sole Bay Arts aims to enhance the arts, cultural and heritage experience of the local community, and with Peter’s skilful guidance the Southwold Arts Centre now presents an all-year-round programme of events including music, theatre, film, comedy, craft and antique fairs, art exhibitions, workshops, community and outdoor events. A recently-installed 4K Cinema Projector was used to screen the Royal Wedding and FA Cup Final in May and will be complemented by a full 7.1 Surround Sound system. “We have also recently had a satellite system installed in order to show live streaming events not shown elsewhere, and new films on general release!” says Peter.
For holidaymakers, Southwold Arts Centre is also a Visitor Information Point, so do pop in and find out what’s going on locally while you’re here. The coffee and bar facilities are available throughout the day and evening, and the toilets are open to the public too.
And if you’d like to plan some entertainment ahead of your next self-catering stay, the box office sells tickets for many local events, acting as a ticket agent for Latitude and Circus Hassani, among others.
‘Mustn’t miss’ events to consider include the Suffolk Summer Theatre season – “a broad mixture of comedies, thrillers and family drama,” says Peter – and, on October 4, Southwold Arts Centre welcomes Henry Blofeld as he undertakes his ‘Dear Old Thing’ retirement tour.
Written by Gillian Bendall
• For up to date news of events, call 01502 722572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The website www.southwoldarts.org is under construction, but you can follow Southwold Arts Centre and Sole Bay Arts on social media – Twitter: @solebayarts, Facebook: @SouthwoldArtsCentre.