A new chapter?

A LEADING stage actor is appealing for Portishead's old library to be converted into an arts centre for the town. Chris Harris, a well-known pantomime dame, has

A LEADING stage actor is appealing for Portishead's old library to be converted into an arts centre for the town.Chris Harris, a well-known pantomime dame, has written to Portishead and North Weston Town Council asking it to consider turning the run down library into a vibrant centre for the arts once the new library is built.Mr Harris, who lives in the town, said: "I see the old library as being just the perfect size for an arts centre and ideally placed between the old town and the speedily growing new development."I travel to lots of towns the same size in England and across Europe and many have a centre where people can go and enjoy and share the arts."The library is an ideal place for a centre such as this as it is right in the middle of the old and new part of the town."Mr Harris, who is appearing as Widow Twankee in the Bath Theatre Royal's production of Aladdin this Christmas, said he would like to see the old library become the 'cultural hub' of the town.He added: "At the moment little is being provided for the cultural well-being of the people of the town."We do have the Somerset Hall which is used for productions, but that is somewhat soul-less."If the arts centre plan went ahead the building could be used for small scale theatre productions, somewhere for people to enjoy an evening music recital or for painting or other art based classes."I would also like to see it used for poetry readings and by literary groups."With a rising older and young generation, this idea would help humanise the town and provide outlets for local artistic endeavours to be shown."It would also provide a venue for the multiplicity of professional arts performances available, yet rarely seen in this part of North Somerset."A town of this size deserves it."The library was opened in 1893 and was initially the town's cinema before being taken over by the local authority and used as a library.Local councillors have welcomed the proposals for an arts centre in the town.Councillor Reyna Knight said: "To use the old library as an arts centre is a fantastic idea and should be looked into carefully."It is great to see that someone is looking to develop the town in this way rather than just building more houses."Portishead Town Council is due to consider the request when it meets tonight (Wed).l What do you think? Would Portishead benefit from an arts centre in the old library? What would you like to see included if the idea was taken forward? Write to us and let us know at Mailbox, Portishead Times, 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW. You can also email us your letters at nstimes@archant.co.uk

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