More than 150 supporters attended the opening of a new arts centre in Ryde on Saturday.
Monkton Arts, based in the former Island Printers building in East Street, is being run by the mother and daughter team of Dawn Fidler and Jenna Sabine.
Mayor of Ryde Michael Lilley officially opened the venture at the weekend and praised the enterprise of the duo.
The centre combines a gallery exhibiting local artists’ work, 2 artists’ studios and the lounge coffee house. It is also the base for a photography group and a meeting place for young adults with autism. A wide range of further activities – including a children’s art exhibition – are planned.
Cllr Lilley said:
“It is a real community initiative and although hidden away in Monkton Village already becoming an exciting arts hub for Ryde.
“It has brought an old empty commercial building which was originally stables back into community use. Local artists, residents and tourists are able to mix in a relaxing and lively atmosphere.”
Dawn and Jenna said they discovered a large number of local artists when they opened a café around the corner from the new centre last October. They started displaying and selling artists’ work and the café soon became the focus for a busy arts scene.
“We knew we needed bigger premises, but we didn’t want to move out of the area”.
“We’d rented out two studios before we had even moved into the new premises, and the gallery is booked until the end of the year”.
Dawn, Jenna and their family refurbished the building themselves with the help of an interest-free loan from a local resident.
Cllr Lilley said:
“We need to support these initiatives and this opening is at a time shops are closing in the town. It is a case to use it or loose it. I urge everyone to visit the centre but also other local venues and shop. Think Local, Shop Local”.