On Monday 5th October things changed dramatically for Making Theatre Gaining Skills as finally we moved into our new, permanent home. For years the company has moved between temporary homes across West Sussex and experienced all the uncertainty that comes with a transient lifestyle. Sharing facilities with brownies, Zumba dancers and even railway workers; having to put everything into storage so that no one can quite remember what happened to the tool kit or the lighting board plus constant anxiety about how long we might get to stay in each place. Some of our temporary homes have been luxurious, or blessed with supportive landlords, but the biggest problem has been maintaining contact with the hundreds of participants that have attended classes. Now at last we have a home which we can welcome them back to.

The building is a very large warehouse just around the corner from the railway station and in fact our back yard looks across to the railway line. It’s owned by Reynolds Furniture, a family firm that have been trading in Bognor since 1867. The building has a large mezzanine and a massive space of 6,600 square feet which we are steadily filling with making kit. Typical of an industrial building, there is very little in the way of facilities so the first task was to sort out better toilets, install a sink and think about adding electrical sockets throughout the space. It’s exciting to imagine how the building can be developed as we’ve never had so much room!

Volunteers have been coming in to help sort out some of the initial work so we’re ready for our first course which will start on 9th November. It’s brilliant to have old friends come back like Tony, Rick and John who have been helping our Technical Manager (Chris) convert an empty space into a workable unit. As long as I keep them supplied with tea and biscuits they’re happy! Meanwhile, our friends at Aldingbourne Trust have started using the downstairs area as a small-scale day centre and a succession of clients are braving the chilly conditions and the not very luxurious toilet! Hopefully we will be able to offer better facilities by the end of the year.

The photos below show some of the work being done by our team.

Hilary Strong, Director