Suffolk’s High Sheriff arrived at The Bank in Eye to deliver some high praise on Tuesday – as the community resource looks ahead to 2018 after reopening.
Formerly a branch of HSBC, the Grade II listed building in Castle Street closed in 2007. But a vision for a community arts centre and coffee house – the brainchild of local artists – was set out in September 2012, before opening its doors the following year.
We reopened on October 4 with a plan to have some fundraising events as we are committed to clearing the debtUrsula Halton, director, The Bank
The facility closed in June and a new management team has taken over, opening its doors once again in October.
The project has debts of about £12,000.
Director Ursula Halton said: “It’s about access to arts for the whole community.
“The side note of that is the education of local people, while hopefully combating isolation and acting as a hub for people to come to.
“We reopened on October 4 with a plan to have some fundraising events as we are committed to clearing the debt.
“At the moment, we are just about to start Crowdfunding, because there is one month’s salary owed to staff.
“While we are open, we are stopping the debts getting bigger. We are treading water. We have had some very generous donations.
“It’s about going back to the original funding model to run it sustainably with volunteers.”
The Bank is open on shortened hours, four days a week, and is seeking more volunteers. It also features its own coffee blend, exclusive at its cafe, and a new shop has also opened.
Mrs Halton added: “A lot of people said it was a shame when it closed.
“Because I consider it a community resource, as soon as we are fully solvent, we will try to have the building listed as a community interest so that, if the business side of it goes down, the building will be safe.”
Suffolk High Sheriff Geoffrey Probert, who earlier in the day had visited the base of Waveney Foodbank on Brome Industrial Estate, said: “It is great to see a community project full of people, bringing together the idea of community spirit and the arts.
“I think every community deserves an arts centre of some kind and I gather the nearest alternative is 25 miles away, so it’s great that Eye and the vicinity has got somewhere to come to put on their art, stage exhibitions, and I’m sure they will grow into other things. It’s very exciting.”
He said such facilities were becoming increasingly important, especially in rural areas.
“We live in a time when there is a breakdown of traditional families, so, in my year as high sheriff, I’m very concerned about loneliness and I do think people live quite isolated lives.
“So anything which gives people the opportunity to come together might just start as a conversation or a cup of coffee, but you never know where it is going to lead.”
n A number of fundraising events have been organised at The Bank.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will be performed by the Keeper’s Daughter theatre company on Friday, December 22, at 7.30pm.
On Saturday, January 13, The Bank will welcome music of an eastern European flavour when Klezmerized take to the stage (doors 7pm, show starts 7.30pm). The fundraiser has a suggested donation of £10 on the door, and will do towards The Bank.
For tickets, call 01379 873495 or go online to www.thebankeye.org.