Progress so far

Lighthouse Schools Partnership and our performing arts centre

March 2018

Many congratulations to Chew Valley School on joining the Lighthouse Schools Partnership, announced on 1 February 2018. Chew Valley joins Gordano and Backwell secondary schools, and (as of March 2018) seven primary schools in the multi-academy trust, in an important step which offers exciting opportunities for improvements and possible new capital projects. So what are the implications for the Valley Arts project to build a community arts centre on the school site?

The school's association with the Valley Arts supporter base, along with its strong School Society, was seen as a benefit it was bringing to the multi-school partnership. In the short-term, we'll need to allow time for the school leadership team to focus on the amount of work that goes with their new academy status, and setting their first priorities for action.

We know that the performing arts centre is high on the school's wish-list. Headteacher Gareth Beynon is working closely with us to keep us informed of progress, and says, "We see this as a very positive step in our ambitious plans for the performing arts in our valley."

Gary Lewis, Chief Executive of the Lighthouse Schools Partnership (who was previously deputy headteacher at Chew Valley School) made a point of coming to Chew Valley's production of Jesus Christ Superstar shortly after the academy announcement was made. 

"The performing arts have been a notable strength of Chew Valley School for many years," he says. "Our Multi-Academy Trust will be working closely with the school and Valley Arts towards their vision for establishing a performance space and community asset here in the Chew Valley.  It's an exciting prospect that will support the school in remaining at the very heart of valley life."

A shot in the arm from the doctor

6 May 2017

Hugely popular for his weekly BBC radio programme and tv comedy appearances, and his steadfast commitment to the NHS, this mash-up of his acclaimed 2016 Edinburgh Fringe shows was poignant, passionate, and hilarious. With pre-comedy musical entertainment from two talented local singer-songwriters, Ita Nad and Kit Lear.
Even after the Sold Out sign went up on the booking site valley residents were still clamouring for tickets, and on the night we packed in 180 seats until we ran out of chairs. (The need for a 250+ seat auditorium is clear…)
As a patron of the performing arts centre, Dr Phil is equally passionate about the value of the arts, and said in his personal letter to audience members, "This is… a great sign of a community that has vision and wants to create a lasting legacy for the area."

Dr Phil performing for Progress so far page


Travelling Light in the Valley

21 April 2017

Bristol's hugely popular children's theatre company Travelling Light (101 Dalmatians and Cinderella at the Tobacco Factory) added an Easter holiday date for Valley Arts to the national tour of their one-man-and-a-wild-animal show.
We presented Sammy and the Snow Leopard at Chew Valley School, Friday 21 April, 11.30am.

Hallo Sammy 400 x 270


Sell-out ceilidh success!

Our fundraising ceilidh at the end of November 2016 was a barnstorming triumph: 100 tickets sold out the week before the event (with a wait-list for cancellations) and a profit of over £1,500!

More importantly, everyone had a great time. The dancing was wild (in an organised, ceilidh sort of way). The Packhouse at the Community Farm looked fantastically festive, transformed with lanterns, fairly lights and MILES of bunting.
Tickets for the raffle were in hot demand. And the supper so generously provided by the Better Food Company fuelled everyone for an even-more-energetic second half.

For more pictures from this excellent night, click on our gallery

Well done and thank you to everyone (take a bow, Laura, Fran and the rest of the fundraising dynamos).
We've found that Eventbrite works really well for us in organising the ticketing for these events, and helps us to reach people beyond our established networks. Over half the people who came to the ceilidh hadn't been in contact with Valley Arts before.

It was a great opportunity to let them know (very briefly) about our vision and invite them to join us on the adventure. (And have a bit more fun like this along the way.) Everyone went home with information about our 200 Club lottery so we hope to have made new friends and built some longer-term funding support.


New website and logo

8 October 2016
Our new website is launched with detailed information for local residents and funders, major new funding initiatives, and dynamic content featuring local performances events and classes to support community involvement.

Launch of the Valley Arts 200 Club lottery

2 October 2016
Our major community fundraising initiative, a licensed lottery limited to 200 "numbers" available at £10 per month, offering us the opportunity to raise up to £13,200 a year to fund our development phase.


1 October 2016
A free one-day drama workshop hosted by Valley Arts at Chew Valley School, with the support of drama teaching MA graduates from Bath Spa University.

Public engagement at Yeo Valley Open Day

2 October 2016
Another valuable opportunity to meet with valley residents, discuss the progress of the project, and launch our major fundraising lottery: the Valley Arts 200 Club.


Sale of Valley Fest bags

August - September 2016
Valley Arts patron Sarah Mead offered us the opportunity to raise funds from the sale of 4,000 sponsored bags-for-life for Valley Fest. The campaign was launched by a design competition for the bag, judged by our patrons Sarah Mead and Michael Eavis (who collaborate in Yeo Valley's bag-for-life for Glastonbury Festival), with Valley Fest organiser Luke Hasell. Bags were sold at retail outlets around Chew Valley as well as to festival-goers.

eavis etc-300x200

Arts in the Community Award presentation

July 2016, Chew Valley School hall
The inaugural award sponsored by Chew Valley Performing Arts Centre, was presented at Chew Valley School's Performing Arts presentation evening to Chew Valley student Ella Phillips for her participation in a national Shakespeare competition.

Volunteer team supplied to Glastonbury Festival

21-27 June 2016
Patron Michael Eavis invited us to supply a team of stewards to Glastonbury, and 23 hard-working supporters gave a week of their time to work as part of the Love The Farm steward team at the festival, earning £3,175 for Valley Arts.

10K Run sponsored fundraising

19 June 2016
Four tired and sweaty Valley Arts members raised an impressive £3,302 in personal sponsorship towards the building of the centre: a great example of the effectiveness of personal networks.

Winner of The Valley sponsored - Arts in the Community award 2016

Public engagement at Yeo Valley Open Day

24 April 2016, Yeo Valley HQ
Our stand at this event (offered by our patron Sarah Mead) gave us a valuable opportunity for publicity, feedback and membership recruitment.

Quiz n Fish n Chips

January 2016, Chew Valley School hall
A hugely enjoyable community event organised to generate publicity and membership recruitment, which raised £750.

Concept architectural drawings produced by Studio ABA (Andrzej Blonksi Architects)

October 2015
Following public consultation, first-concept proposals for the building on the available Chew Valley School site were presented to the Valley Arts committee.

Event at Yeo Valley 2016

Community meeting

22 September 2015, Chew Valley School auditorium
Results of public consultation presented to well-attended public meeting. Facility and design options were discussed, questions were answered by trustees and existing members, and new members and volunteers recruited.

Charity incorporation

18 August 2015
Chew Valley Performing Arts registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation by the Charities Commission.

Community meeting 220915-300x200

Public consultation

February - April 2015
A broad-based consultation process was conducted by Naomi Kent of local consultants Blue Marble Research, to assess potential support for the project. Results showed very strong support for a proposed arts centre, and high predicted use by the local community. Read more

First discussions with architect Andrzej Blonksi of Studio ABA

August 2013
Initial visit to the proposed site, following contact by trustee Steve Conway at a Theatre Trust Conference.

The first idea

March 2013, Chew Valley School
Proposal for a performing arts centre, on land available at Chew Valley School, was presented to a school governors' meeting by Steve Conway, Head of Performing Arts at Chew Valley School, with concept drawings produced by The Bush Consultancy. Rupert Lowe offered to chair a group to take the idea forward.