BUILDING work should start next week to bring art into the heart of Bognor Regis.
The workmen are due to begin creating the first dedicated arts space in the town centre.
They should have finished their alterations to enable the Cloudhopper Gallery to open in the High Street premises in a few months.
The workshop and exhibition space has been the ambition of Rose Green sculptural ceramicist and Community Arts Bognor Regis founder Su Cloud for the past four years.
She said: “This is a really exciting opportunity. I’m really looking forward to getting the artistic community involved with it. It’s been a long time coming, but things have fallen into place quite nicely.
“We have looked at several places, but this is an ideal location. It fits the bill perfectly.
It’s in the town centre, but it’s also only a short distance from the seafront.”
Available in the premises will be a mixture of exhibition and retail space with a dedicated workshop for creative seminars and programmes run by local artists for members of the community.
The premises have been secured with the help of their owner, Arun District Council.
The Community Arts volunteers and council officers have worked on plans together to convert the unit into a suitable location for the new arts base.
The council is paying for the renovations to bring the building up to an acceptable standard.
It has also given Community Arts two years rent free to enable the venture to get started.
Money from community agreements with developers in Bognor will go towards kitting out the gallery and some of its first-year running costs.
Arun leader Gillian Brown said: “We hope this partnership with a community arts group will inspire more artists to set up in the area, residents to try new art forms and provide another opportunity for people to come together in a creative enterprise.
“It is another part of the plan to bring greater vibrancy and energy into the town which, in turn, will encourage people to work and visit here.”
Su had the idea for an arts gallery when she studied on a social enterpreneur course at university four years ago.
She put her studies into effect with Community Arts Bognor Regis which has become a community interest company dedicated to providing inclusive artistic and creative opportunities across the town.
The new gallery will fill the premises once occupied by the town’s museum. It closed there in October 2009, to re-open the following spring in West Street.
The building has been empty since then.