The Sumac Centre is an independent community and social centre in Nottingham, UK, part of the UK Social Centre Network and Radical Routes. It provides resources, meeting spaces and skills for groups and individuals campaigning for human rights, animal rights, the environment, peace and co-operation world-wide. Established in the mid 1980s as the Rainbow Centre, The Sumac Centre works independently of, but in co-operation with, other groups both locally and nationally. The centre receives no regular funding, but exists through the work of volunteers.
In the early 1980s, a group of people associated with the Environmental Fact Shop, Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) had an idea for a "Rainbow Centre". In 1985 the Rainbow Co-operative obtained premises at 180 Mansfield Road, next door to the new FoE Shop in Nottingham. The Rainbow Centre now existed as an autonomous entity, free to expand its activities. In 1988, Friends of the Earth group closed its Nottingham shop. The Rainbow Centre inherited the FoE library materials and was able to increase the range of stock in its shop to include that previously sold by FoE. During the next few years The Rainbow Centre Co-operative began to join forces with the emerging Veggies organisation which specialises in vegan catering. Veggies had started out by working from their members' homes, but now needed its own kitchen. As the years went by, the original members of the Rainbow Centre began to move on. As Veggies was now employing some part-time workers, they were in an ideal position to take over the day-to-day running of the centre. In 1989, as the lease for the next door premises at Mansfield Road became available, the Rainbow Centre expanded its library, and once again opened a shop. Over the years there has been turnover among the members, but the Rainbow Centre and Veggies Catering Campaign continue to be active within the community.
From 1985 to 2001 Nottingham's Rainbow Centre was situated between the Victoria Shopping Centre and Forest Recreation Ground, on the Mansfield Road junction with Huntingdon Street. A whole row of buildings, rented, very poorly maintained and a drain on the collectives finances and enthusiasm — hence the decision to move on to new premises purchased in the Forest Fields/New Basford/Sherwood Rise area, less than a mile further north. Due to what was perceived as an excessively high rent for an old building, in Autumn 2000 the collective members of the Rainbow Centre and Veggies began to research the possibility of buying a building of their own. In June 2001 they purchased a former Ukrainian Social Club, in the Forest Fields/New Basford area of Nottingham. A year later, in June 2002, the renovation of the building was complete and the Centre, having adopted the new name and identity of the Sumac Centre, was opened.
- Interview with Sumac volunteer.
- Nottinghamshire Indymedia Free Spaces section.
- Sumac Centre website
- Veggies Catering Campaign website