Bromsgrove Arts News

  • Sat 27 Jul 2019

    CONTROVERSIAL charges are being introduced at Artrix’s car park which has always been free since the centre opened 14 years ago.

    Heart of Worcestershire (HoW) College, which owns the car park, said the move, which comes into force from September 1, was needed to generate funds amidst a 30 per cent cut in its budget over the last decade.

    The fees up until 7pm each day would be comparable to Bromsgrove District Council’s current town centre car parking charges, currently around 80p per hour.

    While many people might go to see shows at Artrix in the evenings, there are a variety of sessions which take place during the day and would be affected by the introduction.

    Among them are dance classes, including dancefest, belly dancing and Chance to Dance, youth theatre sessions, the little and junior Songstars Choir, the singstars choir and Silver Singers.

    There are also Rhythm Time sessions, pilates, calligraphy and film screenings.

    A spokesperson for the HoW College said: “Despite the pressures, Heart of Worcestershire College has looked to support the local arts community by giving partners time to look to secure alternative revenue streams before considering applying charges for the use of the College car parks.

    “HoW College has to maintain, insure and light these car parks.

    “The college needs to secure additional revenues to support its mission to provide high quality technical and vocational education opportunities across Worcestershire.

    “Charging the general public to use certain car parks where the college has excess capacity is necessary.

    “These charges are aligned to those the local council charges for use of its public car parks.”

    Artrix director Angela Galvin said she was concerned about the impact the charges could have on people coming to the centre in the daytime and may lead to a loss in bar profits as some people who turned up early to shows to have a drink beforehand may turn up in time for the show.

    But she refused to criticise the college over its plan.

    “The college has faced draconian cuts as we have – we have lost £100,000-a-year which we used to receive from the council.

    “Sadly nowadays, free parking is the exception, rather than the rule.

    “We are confident our programme is exciting enough for people to still want to come here.

    “The Bromsgrove community has always supported us and we hope they will still come down when they see what we have planned.”

    She added she had spoken to the college about passes for the staff and volunteers over daily daytime charges and was hopeful an agreement would be reached for passes.

    And she said the college moving its performing arts students from Bromsgrove to Worcester had also hit its revenue stream as it no longer received cash from the college for letting it use the space for lessons, sessions and performances.

    Bromsgrove Arts Alive (BAA) has expressed its disappointment at the policy change.

    In a letter to The Standard this week, Steve Cowperthwaite writing on behalf of BAA, said the organisation was dismayed by the fees.

    “Bromsgrove is so lucky to have an arts centre like Artrix.

    “It hosts a wonderful range of performances and activities – music, shows, comedy, theatre, family entertainment etc.

    “Local orchestras and choirs have enjoyed using its facilities.

    “With Artrix being outside the town centre we have been fortunate that it has always enjoyed ample free parking.

    “Artrix has been creative in its programming and planning to cope with major funding cuts in recent years.

    “We sincerely hope that visitors to Artrix are not deterred by an hourly parking charge.”

    WHAT do you think about the proposed car parking charges? Do you agree the college should charge to negate cuts? Or maybe you believe other methods could be found to raise revenue? Will you be one of those hit by the fees? Email us your views to editor [at] bromsgrovestandard [dot] co [dot] uk

  • Fri 19 Jul 2019

    A TALENTED Dodford First School pupil fought off 22,000 others to make the top ten in the country in a Young Writers’ competition, writes Roman Filkin.

    Hamish, from year three, had written and submitted a 100-word short story called ‘The Mysterious Soup’.

    It was one of the winning pieces selected in the contest.

    He was delighted to receive a prize of a rucksack filled with goodies and his name appearing on the young writers’ website.

    Headteacher Lisa Parkes said: “All the children had enjoyed entering the competition and seeing their work published.

    “We were all very proud of Hamish’s achievement.”

    Reprinted courtesy of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Sun 3 Feb 2019

    PEOPLE can find out more about the Bromsgrove Men In Sheds group at two upcoming open days, writes Eve Watson.

    The events, which anyone can go along to for chat and a cup of tea, will be between 11am and 2pm on Thursday, Februrary 7, and from 11am to 3pm on March 23.

    ‘The Shedders’ take part in DIY, restoring furniture and completing community projects.

    The scheme, run by Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wyre Forest, brings together people, often retirees, who want to share and learn new skills in a relaxed environment.

    The group’s base is at Unit 1, Metal and Ores Industrial Estate, 138 Hanbury Road, Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove. Visit and click the ‘Men in Sheds’ link in the ‘Activities and Events’ section or call Jo Hughes on 01527 868855 to find out more about the group.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Sun 3 Feb 2019

    A BROMSGROVE dad is bursting with pride after his daughter released her first novel.

    John Spain has spent years encouraging his 52-year-old daughter Joanna Nell, to put pen to paper.

    Her new book ‘The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village’ is based on Joanna’s experience working as a doctor at a retirement home in Australia.

    “Me and Joanna’s mum bought her a typewriter when she was eight years old because we could see how much she loved writing,” said John.

    “Her first draft story was about a pony club which I still have in the garage.”

    But despite her natural writing ability Joanna chose a different career path and became a doctor after studying at Bromsgrove School and Cambridge University.

    Later on Joanna took a job on a cruise ship where she met her husband who was an on-board engineering officer at the time.

    Together they decided to emigrate to Australia, with Joanna eventually becoming a GP at a doctors outside of Sydney.

    “About two years ago Joanna started writing again,” said John.

    “She finished her first book but it was never published.

    “Joanna was very new to the industry at that point and it was a learning curve.

    “But with her second book she found great success.

    “Her inspiration for the story came from the patients she met while visiting an elderly retirement home.

    “We are incredibly proud of our wonderful girl.”

    The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village tells the story of beige widow Peggy Smart as she unleashes her secret fantasies.

    For more information head to or order the book online at Amazon.

    REprinted by kind persmission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Sat 2 Feb 2019

    BARNT Green author Steve Dunn is hoping his new book Southern Thunder will keep the memory of the First World War alive, writes Ryan Smith.

    The book, which has just been published, tells the little-known story of the dangerous game played by the Scandinavian countries in the Great War, where they pitched the two sides against one another to protect their trade despite claiming neutrality.

    Last year’s centenary sparked a massive show of support and remembrance throughout the country to pay tribute to those who fought and died between 1914 and 1918.

    Mr Dunn, whose previous works have been shortlisted for the Mountbatten Maritime Award, said now the centenary had passed it would become even harder to make sure people did not forget about the war.

    “The war’s legacy still affects us today, good and bad, and it’s important we continue to reflect upon it and think about peace.”

    Visit or book shops to buy Southern Thunder.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Sun 27 Jan 2019

    A SONG made famous by Bromsgrove’s ‘Busking Bobby’ has been included in a play which has been created to raise awareness of the increasing levels of homelessness, writes Ryan Smith.

    ‘Pleasure’ by former police officer Ian Northcott BEM has been included in the production of ‘Streets Apart’ in recognition for the work done by his charity ‘Socks and Chocs’.

    The organisation helps out the homeless by providing them with item, such as socks, other essential clothing and toiletries, to make their lives more comfortable.

    The song was originally uploaded to YouTube in 2012, with Ian asking young artists to cover it to raise awareness for the charity.

    Now the play Streets Apart has been written by Stratford-upon-Avon by playwright Jackie Lines who was inspired by Ian’s contributions in the battle to stop homelessness.

    Jackie Lines said: “Socks and chocs philosophy of a lot of people doing a little bit is better than a few doing a lot is exactly what is needed in this community.”

    The play follows the traumatic lives of the homeless and the fight that they face for survival, as well as the looking at their back stories and the decisions that led to their situations.

    It will be performed at Stratford Playhouse on April 6 and 7 as part of an event that will see the arts show their support for people who are currently homeless.

    Local homeless support agencies and charities will also be present at the event.

    Jackie added: “The stories I heard were heart-breaking but each time someone gave me an open description of how they came to be in their situation, I knew that these good people deserved more.”

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Mon 8 Oct 2018

    BIRMINGHAM singer-songwriter Robert Lane, who released his third album Only a Flight Away in the spring, will be performing in the studio at Bromsgrove’s Artrix at 8pm on Friday, October 12.

    Robert was chosen by the LG Arena to perform in the Forum Live area of the arena before concerts by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Ellie Goulding and John Mayer.

    He has also toured extensively in the UK as a support for artists including Jenn Bostic, Sarah Darling, Nell Bryden and Bob Fox.

    In June 2017 he completed a joint headline tour with Nashville based singer Kyshona Armstong.

    Since April 2016 he has embarked on five tours of Germany and in 2018 will visit Holland and Scandinavia for the first time.

    In July 2015 he once again performed at the newly re-branded Genting Arena before a concert by Fleetwood Mac.

    And in August 2013 he was selected to attend a song writing retreat/course with Kinks front man Ray Davies.

    Tickets for the Artrix gig are £10 in advance or £12 on the door.

    Visit or call 01527 577330 for tickets and more information.

    Go to for more on Robert Lane.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Thu 4 Oct 2018

    BROMSGROVE’S ancient St John’s Church will now be able to be lit up at night, thanks to the installation of external lights.

    Local electrical contractors Woliters arrived this week, complete with a donated cherry picker from town firm GTAccess, to begin the project.

    Friends of St John chairman Jo Slade said: “We are hugely grateful to the team at GTAccess.

    “The majority of the lights are being fitted from the side aisle roofs and the cherry picker is an essential part of the project for ease and safety.”

    The church building, tower and spire will all be lit up at night and the spire will have colour-changing lights fitted so they can be changed for specific events and celebrations.

    The Friends group is keen the church is used by community groups and it is hoped that the external lighting will raise the profile of the building and ensure the church is a focal point in the town at night as well as during the day.

    The installation work will continue through October and the Friends is organising the ‘Big Light Up’ switch on ceremony at 6pm on October 30. Everyone is welcome to go along and see the church light up.

    This project has been made possible thanks to the support and generosity of local people who have supported the Friends of St John’s as a Friend and by attending or supporting events such as the Bromsgrove Christmas Markets and The Snowman concerts.

    “The team is hugely grateful to everyone for their contributions,” added Jo.

    And we thought we would send along Standard photographer Marcus Mingins to capture the moment and see if he had a ‘head for heights’.

    Visit and follow the Friends group to keep up-to-date with events.


    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Sun 30 Sep 2018

    A COMMEMORATIVE Community Concert will be held at Artrix at 7.45pm on November 11 to remember the centenary of Armistice Day and raise funds for the Royal British Legion.

    Battle’s Over will include performances from the Vintage Class singers, Blackwell Concert Band, featuring Town Crier Kevin Ward and Catherine Tabberner, the Chadsgrove Choir and Fairfield.

    Leigh Blakeman from Vintage Class said had the idea last year and got in touch with Jules Evans from the legion.

    “We have wanted to do something big for the Royal British Legion for a while so I saw the opportunity to do a community commemoration event with a good mixture of performances and a ceremonial section too.

    “It has all been put together to remember, celebrate and honour all those who served their country to give us all the freedom we have in our lives now. “

    The annual Remembrance Sunday parade and Armistice Day commemorations will take place in Bromsgrove earlier in the day and a beacon will be lit at St John’s Church in the evening.

    Tickets for the concert are £10 and are available from or by calling 01527 577330.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Tue 18 Sep 2018

    BROMSGROVE High Street has missed out on being short-listed for the 2018 Great British High Street of the year but the district councillor responsible for the town centre says there is still plenty to be proud about.

    Coun Karen May, whose portfolio covers economic development, said: “I still believe it was a good idea to raise the profile of Bromsgrove so well done to everyone concerned.

    “While we didn’t make the cut this time around we hold our head up high and continue moving Bromsgrove in the right direction.”

    It was in June when the council’s centres manager Cheryl Walsh approached local businesses to gauge interest in entering the competition and most people thought it was a good idea.

    With the backing of MP Sajid Javid, who described Bromsgrove town centre as a place that ‘set the gold standard for other towns and cities’, the bid was launched, complete with a promotional video extolling the High Street’s virtues.

    It was mentioned Bromsgrove had recently attracted a new selection of independent traders who had chosen the town as the place for their businesses.

    But it was not meant to be this year as Bromsgrove High Street missed out on being one of the 38 shortlisted high streets from England, Scotland and Wales.

    Author and TV presenter Simon Reeve who is a judge for the Great British High Street Awards 2018, paid tribute to every town and city which entered.

    He said: “I’ve spent the last couple of months visiting independent high street retailers across the UK and I’ve been blown away by the passion and commitment shown by shopkeepers across Britain.”

    The winning entries for both the Champion and Rising Star categories will be announced on 15 November 2018 at an awards ceremony in London.

    * WHAT do you think should be done to improve Bromsgrove High Street? Is there anything that is not being done at the moment which you feel could enhance the area and the experience for shoppers? Email your views to editor [at] bromsgrovestandard [dot] co [dot] uk

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard