The Birth of Tamworth Arts Centre
Tamworth Herald – 14/11/75
Tamworth Arts Centre opens its doors to the general public at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 22. The centre will be officially opened on the previous Friday by Mr. Bruce Grocott M.P., but because of the seating limitations admittance to the opening will be by invitation only.
To extend the opening as much as possible and enable the maximum number of people to see the centre and the facilities available. Dave Armour, the centre manager, has arranged a programme of events which will appeal to all tastes.
This programme will cover the first two weeks of the centre being open and includes drama, classical music, folk music, poetry, film, dance and a brass band concert. The centre will also be open during the day when several exhibitions will be staged.
These performances will be presented by professional and local entertainers and the manager hopes that future use of the centre will be similarly divided.
The new centre, originally a 19th century music-hall, has served several functions before its recent conversion. Prior to being bought by the Borough Council, the building had been a Baptist Chapel and now after several month of alteration, it houses a 100 seat auditorium, three multi-purpose rooms and a coffee bar.
Mr. Armour is hopeful that during the day people with a few minutes to spare will pop in for coffee and perhaps take in whatever promotions the centre is offering. The building has much to offer to organisations who are looking for day-time meeting rooms and the manager wishes to encourage people who have a need of this sort to take advantage of its facilities.
Mr. Armour will welcome any voluntary assistance, and particularly persons with a few hours a week to spare and some talent which could be utilised by the centre. This is not to say particularly people of an artistic nature – but also tradesmen of any description, whose skills would be most welcome.
Saturday, November 22:
The first presentation will be a potted history of one of the world’s most popular entertainers, Charlie Chaplin in a show presented by the West Midlands Arts Rural Touring Company “Pentabus” called “The Charlie Chaplin Show”.
Sunday, November 23:
Tamworth Choral Society present choruses from Messiah (including the Hallelujah), Zadock the Priest and a chorus from Vivaldi’s Gloria (part of their next production).
Monday, November 24:
A folk concert featuring one of Britain’s top folk acts, The Watersons, who have been in existence for some years and are recognised as being one of the most knowledgeable and proficient acts on the folk scene. On the same bill will be Julia and Chris Lloyd, local traditional singers and Andy Dwyer, who hosts several clubs in the area.
Tuesday, November 25:
Music hall songs given a modern delivery is the basis of this entertainment from “Cosmotheka” (the name of an old London music hall). Brothers Dave and Al Sealey belt out in rapid succession songs made famous by some of the music hall greats. Completing the entertainment will be Barry Roberts and Steve Parks affecting comic and melodic songs.
Wednesday, November 26:
Tamworth Arts Club will present a musical miscellany of songs from their previous and future productions.
Thursday, November 27:
Tamworth Little Theatre Studio Players present “Percival the Performing Pig” and “Backward Glances” an evening of verse performed by members of the Little Theatre.
Friday, November 28:
Rat Theatre are a group of actors who have committed themselves to the physical rather than the vocal aspect of drama. “Reflextions” their current ‘play’ is the story of one man’s struggle to stay free from the corruptions of others around him and how these others attempt, by fair or foul means, to woo him over to their side. Completing this evening of modern theatre will be the MacNaughton Theatre Group.
Their production, “Freedom Trail” is a look a look at America in an anthology of scenes from plays, poetry and song taken from the works of Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Kopit, George Bernard Shaw and others.
Saturday, Novemner 29:
Jean Tredaway (contralto), Kathryn Harries (soprano), Arthur Solomon (tenor) and Keith Leyton (bass-baritone), accompanied by May Barrs combine to present an evening of well-known solos, arias and duets no music lover will want to miss.
Jean Tredaway was born in Birmingham and studies with David Franklin at the Birmingham School of Music. She is a member of the Royal Opera Company and appears at this concert by permission of the General Administrator, Royal opera House, Covent Garden. Miss Tredaway is well known and prior to joining Covent Garden was a frequent prizewinner at Tamworth and other leading music festivals.
Kathryn Harries holds an honours degree in music from London University and has recently completed an extra year of studies with Constance Shacklock at the Royal Academy of Music.
Arthur Solomon studied with the German Operatic Conductor, Walter Staisny and sang with the National Theatre and Fine Arts Council Opera in Hobart, Tasmania, his birthplace. He has sung with the late Marie Collier and many other Australian singers who later went on to international careers. Since coming to this country, he has appeared in concerts in many parts of England.
Keith Leyton, from Tamworth, studied with Gordon Clinton at the Birmingham School of Music, and has won countless awards at leading festivals throughout the country. He is in great demand as a soloist with Midland choral and opera societies.
Sunday, November 30:
Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” and a feature “Shakespeare: A Mirror to Men” make up the evening of cinema. Romeo and Juliet features Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in the title roles, the first time the tragic young lovers have been portrayed by actors of approximately their own ages. The film also stars Milo O’Shea.
Monday, December 1:
Ray Hassett in “Wild Animals from Memory”. Ray Hassett is one half of “Sals Meat Market” one of the most popular and consistently amusing “Fringe Theatre Companies”. This one-man show is the story of a supermarket hold-up with Ray taking the parts of all the participants. “For an hour we are held breathless by the extraordinary adventure and the odd reality of the personnel – half cartoon, half photograph.” (The Stage and Television Today, Feb 20, 1975)
Tuesday, December 2:
A selection of popular brass band music is offered by Amington Band. This local band needs no introduction to people who enjoy first class band concerts.
Wednesday, December 3:
The first of two entertainments from local young people this week comes from pupils of Wilnecote Comprehensive School. Soloists from the school orchestra and the school folk group will provide an evening’s musical entertainment which will be of interesting variety.
Thursday, December 4:
A selection of films from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Film Library form the basis of this presentation by the Tamworth Natural History Society. Three films in all will be screened including Birds of Strathspey and others from the RSPB Film Library.
Friday, December 5:
Merseyside Unity Theatre’s production of Henry Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” is the highlight of the centre’s theatre promotions this opening fortnight. This famous play, which revolves around Helmer’s sudden awareness that she is merely an ornament in her husband’s home is of theatre’s modern classics.
Saturday, December 6:
An evening of ballet winds up the fortnight’s varied programme. Tamworth Co-operative Youth Ballet under the direction Miss C. McCracken present “The Silver Fish”, “Golden Slave”, “The Dying Swan” plus divertissements solos by Sue Bailey and Yvonne Harris.
Further events to be presented will be announced when details become available. Something parents might like to bear in mind is the extent to which the centre during the Christmas holidays for children’s activities.
Some events have yet to be planned but the assistance of volunteers for this period will determine the scope of activities.
If you can help out in any way please contact Dave Armour on Tamworth 53092 or call in the Arts Centre any time.
Tamworth Herald – 21/11/75
Finishing touches were being added to Tamworth's new £67,000 Arts Centre this week in readiness for its opening ceremony tonight (Friday 21st November 1975)
The Centre which is housed in the old Baptist Church building in Church Street, will be opened by Tamworth's M.P. Mr. Bruce Grocott - and already a full programme has been arranged including shows by a travelling theatre company and recitals by local musicians.
"We're in the last throes of preparation work, "centre manager Dave Armour said yesterday. "All that remains is to hang the curtains and finish off the lighting,"
Tamworth Herald – 28/11/75
Tamworth’s M.P. Mr. Bruce Grocott, said at its official opening on Friday that the town’s new arts Centre was one of the “real Benefits” of town expansion.
Speaking to a first night audience of special guests, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Tamworth, Councillor and Mrs. Doug Bonas. Mr. Grocott said this year had been “quite remarkable” so far as Tamworth was concerned, with the opening of the Municipal Golf Course and now the arts centre.
“It is a time to be very proud of indeed. We’re beginning to see some of the real benefits of town expansion.”
Mr.Grocott said Britain and Europe had a “tremendous arts heritage” and added “The greatest source we have is the talent and potential of the people and I hope the people of this town will take advantage of the centre.”
He said the centre would make the arts available to a wider range of people.
“All involved in the adaptation of the building are to be congratulated”.
Mr. Grocott and the Mayor and Mayoress toured the building – previously a Baptist Chapel – which house a 100 seat auditorium, three multi-purpose rooms and a coffee bar.
The guests later saw a performance of the centre’s first presentation, a potted history of Charlie Chaplin by the West Midlands Arts Rural touring Company “Pentabus”.
Mr. Brian Moore, the Borough Recreation and Amenities Officer, said the company had given a “superb” performance.
“It went extremely well and most of the guests stayed behind for a chat with the actors after the show.
“We hope the public of Tamworth will support the events at the centre,” he said.
“The initial response was encouraging and we hop the centre will go from strength to strength.”