Arts centre bar is saved from closure

A BAR which was threatened with closure will stay open.

South Kesteven District Council announced this week that it is keeping the Cellar Bar in the basement of Stamford Arts Centre in St Mary’s Street open.

It is also keeping in place a bar in the arts gallery.

District council’s portfolio holder for healthy environment John Smith (Con) said the gallery bar had proved popular with visitors.

He said: “Our overriding aim is to ensure the sustainability of the arts centres in Stamford and Grantham.

“As part of this process we looked at a range of options, listened to what the users wanted and have balanced their views with the need to increase income from the facilities on site. We are working closely with our franchisees to provide the facilities that users have asked for.”

Coun Smith said feedback had shown that customers’ visits to the arts centre were “enhanced” by both bars and added: “Many of them wouldn’t have chosen to visit the gallery and as a result art sales have increased.”

The Cellar Bar was threatened with closure in September because the district council said the customer numbers were low and the franchise had come to an end.

In October, the district council installed the bar in the gallery, which was described as “temporary” and started a four-week public consultation asking visitors to the arts centre, which bar they would like to keep in place. There were 634 responses to the consultation, which was carried out in the form of a questionnaire.

Andy Croft, who has run the Cellar Bar as a franchise for 13 years, has been running it on a month-by-month basis since October.

He said: “I am very pleased that the Cellar Bar is continuing and I was overwhelmed by the support of customers. I will have to talk to the district council about the long-term future.”

Mike Alabaster and Will Illsley, who are two members of the Welland Valley Arts Society, which exhibits in the arts centre, presented a petition with 1,166 signatures to the district council calling for the removal of the gallery bar.