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13 November 2014

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You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Art, Films and Television > 'The small hall with a big reputation'

Seth Lakeman

Seth Lakeman was last year's highlight

'The small hall with a big reputation'

The David Hall Arts Centre in South Petherton has made a name for itself despite its modest size. The venue regularly attracts big names in folk music like Seth Lakeman and Fairport Convention.

Most people would be forgiven for calling the 'David Hall Arts Centre' as simply the 'The David Hall' but as with most places there is a reason behind its name.

David Hall arts centre volunteers

Regular volunteers keep the centre going

In this case it was the wish of the former owners.

In the 1990's they sold it to the Petherton Arts Trust on condition that it should be named after their son David Hall who died in a motorbike accident.

Now it's a thriving arts centre living up to its motto, 'the small hall with a big reputation'.

Some of the artists who've performed there have included Seth Lakeman, Fairport Convention, Bella Hardy and Show of Hands.

'Younger generation'

It's this live music programme of events which has attracted a faithful following.

One music fan flew from Northern Ireland after seeing the centre's website, en route to catching a flight from London to Venezuela while another couple travelled from London to see an act and received help from the arts centre in booking their accommodation and transport.

There is a different side to the centre's activities which caters towards the local community like regular coffee mornings and exercise classes.

Tony Charman, the Arts Centre chairman says there are also growing efforts to engage younger people locally so they can take over the reins in the future.

Tony Charman, Chairman of David Hall Arts Centre

Tony Charman, Arts Centre Chairman

"This is something we are currently working very hard on and I think it's fair to say we haven't done so in the past.

"We are very aware that us old wrinklies won't be around for ever. We've got initiatives underway with the Princes Trust, the young person's parish council and the local school to get the younger generation involved,'' he said.

'Great buzz'

The general feeling among staff and volunteers is one of optimism, very different to the situation in 2006.

Funding was dramatically cut and the future of the centre was in doubt.

Now the centre's fortunes have improved and former church is going to get a makeover which volunteers hope is the first of many.

£20,000 largely gained through fundraising and council grants will be spent on essential work to the roof.

Inside of David Hall Arts Centre

Efforts are being made to fund a revamp

They're also planning to apply for more Lottery Grant money to refurbish the office upstairs.

For the Chairman of the Petherton Arts Trust walking this fine line of balancing the books and keeping the centre running is all worth it.

"On a music night when you see people having such a good time, going out at the end of the evening with a smile on their face, when they've enjoyed live music by some of the best people around, it's such a great buzz."

last updated: 06/10/2008 at 11:55
created: 09/09/2008

You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Art, Films and Television > 'The small hall with a big reputation'

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