Ware is in for a treat.
You might remember the publicity around the Southern Maltings Group’s bid to save Ware’s Southern Maltings from developers in 2015. To me, at least, it had gone quiet since we heard the group had successfully acquired the building in December 2016.
Well it’s not quiet anymore.
The Southern Maltings opened their doors as part of the Heritage Open Day scheme recently, giving a lucky few a behind-the-scenes tour. And what a privilege it was.
The eastern part of the building has been open for some time as Ware Arts Centre, but I’d never had the chance to see inside the rest of it. Waggers Pub held part of it at one time but that’s been closed for some years now. The rest of the building was being used for storage.
The upper floor of the central part of the building has recently been renovated, and opened in May as part of Ware’s the Music. Since then Upstairs at the Southern Maltings has hosted Vinyl Nights and more live music, raising funds towards the creation of the £500,000 arts and performance centre.
Plans are now in place to restore and enhance original features, opening the whole building up as a hub for arts in the community. There are plans for studio, teaching, events and exhibition spaces, as well as a garden and a new café. The plans will go on display from October and you’ll be able to have your say on them at www.southernmaltings.co.uk.
At a time when so many places and services we love are being closed, cut or losing their funding, it’s magical to see an arts venue like this emerging and growing. That’s down to the help, commitment and love of the community who are driving it.
Those leading the project are hugely respectful of the building’s past and its place in the history of the town. They are also clearly focused on the future and the potential the building has for the community. They’re even involving local students in the building work to help them hone their skills.
The people I met were knowledgeable, welcoming and excited, as well as realistic about the journey ahead. I was impressed, and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes them.
Coming soon at Southern Maltings
This autumn Upstairs at the Southern Maltings will host live music, film screenings and an art exhibition. It will also be one of the venues for Ware’s the Fun Palace on the weekend of 7th and 8th October, along with other spaces in Ware Arts Centre (and beyond). You can find out about these events and more at: www.southernmaltings.co.uk
About the author
This is a guest post from freelance copywriter, Megan Rose.
Megan is a tea-drinking writer, and winner (mostly) of the daily battle against some pretty independently-minded hair. She works as Megan Rose Freelance, a Hertfordshire-based copywriter working with small businesses and charities to help them grow. When she’s not working she’s often found tap-dancing, enthusiastically massacring her latest craft hobby or tying herself in knots in front of a yoga video.