Uncertain future for Caistor Arts & Heritage Centre

Centre manager Stephanie Dale and volunteer director Rose Davies EMN-160819-082736001
Centre manager Stephanie Dale and volunteer director Rose Davies EMN-160819-082736001
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In 2011, the transformation of a derelict chapel into a state of the art centre for Caistor was high profile, but five years on it could all be in jeopardy.

After receiving a Big Lottery grant of £430,000, the creation of Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre was one of six projects featured in the BBC’s Village SOS programme to revitalise rural communities.

It is one of only two of the projects still running, but now the future is looking uncertain.

“Come the autumn, we are concerned we are not going to have the money to continue,” said centre manager Stephanie Dale.

“As a not for profit organisation, we have no core funding and so we rely on the income from the cafe to keep the place going.

“Following the national coverage, through the television programme, the centre was overwhelmed with visitors.

“There were queues all the way up the street, so that shows how many people came, but the usage has gone down.”

Now, the centre is looking at ways to increase usage and are currently applying for funding to make a visitor experience not just to attract people to Caistor but to the wider area.

“We cannot just rely on local people, we need to look at attracting more visitors from further afield,” said Ms Dale.

The centre has been working in partnership with East and West Lindsey District Councils and a number of businesses in the Wolds area to form a destination management plan for the Wolds area.

“We have said we would like to be a Gateway to the Wolds Visitor Centre to show just what the area has to offer,” said Ms Dale.

“It is something that will benefit the whole area.

“We want people to come here and find out there is too much to do in the area for just one weekend and come back again to spend more time here.”

One of the centre’s volunteer’s directors, Rose Davies, has been working alongside Ms Dale to apply for funding to make the visitor centre a reality.

“It will be a one stop shop for finding about the wonders of the Wolds,” she said.

“It is not just about Caistor, but this will be main focus for information.”

But Ms Dale is keen to point out this will only be a small part of the centre’s function.

The centre houses the town’s library and hosts a number of community events for all ages to enjoy throughout the year.

Monthly exhibitions showcase artistic talent from the local area and a number of groups have grown up over the years too, which continue to use the centre as their base.

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau hosts a drop in session every Monday and, keeping in with the heritage side, Adam Daubney from the portable antiquities scheme, is there every Thursday to help identify finds.

“The community stuff will still happen, but we need to secure the centre’s future,” added Ms Dale.