The Queens Park Arts Centre is the hub, heart and home of the arts in Aylesbury Vale, providing ‘arts for all’ to the local community for more than 35 years.
Offering more than 70 weekly workshops in the creative and performing arts – plus specialist workshops throughout the year – Queens Park is the largest independent arts centre in the UK. The centre is also the home of the Limelight Theatre, an intimate venue offering an eclectic programme of comedy, music and theatre.
In addition, Queens Park hosts exhibitions and special events throughout the year, including craft fairs and Health & Wellbeing Days, and regularly engages in community outreach work through its Wander House Project.
Sarah Lewis, Artistic Director said: “I am genuinely delighted by the recognition in the Times for the centre, I don’t actually come from Aylesbury, I grew up in a village in Somerset, so when I was growing up I had to travel to get access to the sort of cultural offer Queens Park Arts Centre & the Limelight Theatre provides.
“I’ve also worked in several counties over the last 25 years and, as the Arts Council of England confirmed some years ago, I know that there’s nothing like the Queens Park Arts Centre in Britain in terms of breadth of provision, offered in our unique ‘pay as you go’ way.
“I’ve been running the centre for 15 years now but as soon as I walked in I felt that it’s a complete gem and should not only be invested in, nurtured and supported, but celebrated.”
Sarah’s involvement began 15 years ago, in 2002. The first challenge Sarah faced was ensuring that they owned the premises. It is quite rare for an arts centre to own their own premises, but Sarah says that it has ensured they have a superb platform to work from.
Sarah added: “ I was instantly struck by the lovely welcoming atmosphere, and I loved the community provision, just before working I was working at Richmond Theatre in Surrey and there wasn’t a great deal of workshops or community engagement, but in the Queens Park Arts we had a bit of everything, theatres, workshops and exhibitions. It’s a lovely eclectic mix.
“We have a very strong committed base, and our customers are very loyal. We welcome new members and old with open arms. We are so lucky to have such cracking facilities.
“We are hitting about 52,000 visits a year, which is fantastic news. Eighty per cent of these visitors had been coming for more than five years as well, which shows that people are coming, enjoying themselves and staying on.
“Looking forward, we’re building up our outreach work with community workshops, hoping to keep building our audiences. There are a few renovations that need completing and we are in the process of trying to get grants to finish the job.
“Luckily we have a diverse range of people who work here. We want more and more people to come and enjoy themselves at the QPAC. It’s a fantastic achievement to be recognised, and I’m thrilled for all our staff, and for Aylesbury Town.”