Arts project not the first to be dedicated to Bognor

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Your report last week on the Cloudhoppers project is welcome news but it is not the first dedicated art project in the town. That distinction belongs to the Phoenix Gallery space which operated in the Hotham Arts Centre (now renamed back to the Regis Centre) between 2006 and 2008.

This was a unique space blessed with natural light in profusion and thus very much liked by the exhibitors.

It was developed by my Arun Arts co-trustee, the late Stephen Emck, who curated a number of very good exhibitions, mainly by young artists developing their professional and commercial careers.

It added something very special to a foyer which otherwise can appear drab and featureless.

Alas, it was terminated when some of the newer trustees perhaps felt it did not fit with their theatrical concepts, and I am so sorry we do not have that exciting and now fitting memorial to Steve’s vision.

Many theatres DO see the sense of use of space in this way, and its size allows for larger canvases, not often available to artists.

My memory is that it pleased centre visitors, attracted new people.

Concerning Mr Foster’s comments, I agree that adding 70 seats at such a cost is not what is needed.

As it is, the Alexandra is fit for modest-size productions, mainly amateur, there probably has to be some reliance on ‘tribute acts’, and it is well below the size bigger professional companies and acts will consider, and their fees preclude cost-covering.

My vision of 750 seats would bring down the construction cost per seat, and we would then see the larger acts willing to come. There is a captive and growing audience just down the road at Butlin’s.

I also share the vision within the University of Chichester to make that place a centre for its musical theatre degree, and that the centre could host regular concerts by the renowned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, for example, as well as the very accomplished University Symphony Orchestra.

We need a landmark project on that site, a puny multiplex is doomed to being useless, except maybe to St Modwen.

There is an inaccurate statement in Mr Foster’s letter.

As far as I am aware, Arun Arts since I led its exit from winding-up, has broken even every year, with no Arun subsidy and only a modest one from the town council.

We won’t get the chance again; 450 seats is a recipe for further mainly-amateur/tribute productions only, many excellent for sure, but not the venue which will pull in people from outside the town on a regular basis.

Jan Cosgrove

Longford Road

Bognor Regis