Salisbury Arts Centre

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Salisbury Arts Centre (formerly St Edmund's church)

Salisbury Arts Centre is a venue for theatre, music, dance, comedy, family shows, films, exhibitions, and workshops in Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom. It is run by Wiltshire Creative, a charity which provides opportunities for members of the community to experience the arts.

The centre stages a range of educational and community events,[1] many of them free,[2] and it also participates at events in and around the city, including the Larmer Tree Festival.

The centre is housed in the deconsecrated St Edmund's Church on Bedwin Street in central Salisbury. Its main performance space can hold 164 people seated or 400 standing. It also has a studio space called the White Room that seats 60, a media space, a multi-purpose arts and crafts space, a pottery studio, an exhibition space, a café, a bar, and staff offices.


In July 1974, the Salisbury Festival of the Arts (now Salisbury International Arts Festival) was held in the building with a programme of classical music and an exhibition of batik paintings. The festival programme asked visitors to suggest ideas for the use of the building, and in 1975 the church's committee agreed to grant use as an arts venue.[3] St Edmunds Arts Trust[4] was established and a group of volunteers coordinated exhibitions from local artists, and workshops for various crafts.

The Arts Centre continued to develop in the next decades. Between 1979 and 1981, Sir Henry Moore loaned his Reclining Figure (Time Life 1953) to the Centre, where it was positioned outside the main entrance.

By the 1990s the Arts Centre was threatened with closure due to funding cuts but supporters from the community soon launched a "Save Our Arts Centre" campaign.[5] A new funding plan was accepted and the Arts Centre carried on.

By 2003 the Arts Centre had raised funds for a refurbishment project. The £4.2m capital re-development improved the heating, added new level flooring, created various spaces within the main building, improved the toilets, installed new technical equipment, and added an extension.[6] Salisbury Arts Centre reopened in 2005 with a new programme of events.[7]

In 2018 the Arts Centre merged with Salisbury Playhouse and Salisbury International Arts Festival to form Wiltshire Creative.[8] St Edmunds Arts Trust was amalgamated with the Playhouse's charity, which was also renamed to Wiltshire Creative.[9][10]

Notable activities[edit]

Salisbury Arts Centre regularly programmes disability events[11] and works in collaboration with disability arts organisations.[12] It works with various community groups[13] and provides free events, including the annual Family Fiesta[14] and the regular Live Lunches.[15]

The Arts Centre supports a number of resident artists, including ceramicist Mirka Golden-Hann, who studies colour and glaze technology. Its gallery also mounts a variety of exhibitions.[16] The Centre also hosts concerts, including the regular Altar Club band nights,[17] film nights,[18] and other cultural events. A number of entertainers have performed at Salisbury Arts Centre early in their careers; for example the Manic Street Preachers played in November 1990.[19]

In 2015 the Centre was in the news after local residents protested the sudden removal of all municipal funding.[20][21]

St Edmund's Church[edit]

A collegiate church on this site was founded in 1269 by Bishop de la Wyle[3] and dedicated to Saint Edmund of Abingdon, the former Archbishop of Canterbury who had been canonised in 1246. At first there were to be a provost and thirteen priests, but the income of the college (some coming from charter fairs) was not adequate to support that number; the full complement was in place in the middle of the next century, after the grant of income from Whiteparish, Winterbourne Earls and Winterborne St Martin. In the 15th century the college was again in financial difficulty, and like others it was surrendered to Henry VIII in the 1540s.[22]

The 13th-century church was rebuilt in the early 15th century, cruciform in plan with a central tower. In 1653 the tower collapsed, severely damaging the nave to its west. The tower was rebuilt, the nave demolished and the 15th-century chancel converted to a nave. A small chancel was added at the east end in the 1840s, and restoration in 1865–67 by Sir George Gilbert Scott included enlargement of the chancel.[3]

The church was designated as Grade II* listed in 1952. After it was declared redundant in 1974 it was converted for use by the Arts Centre in 1975. In 2005, buildings containing offices and workshops were added to the north.[3]


  1. ^ Arts Council England. "National Portfolio Organisations". Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  2. ^ Blake, Morwenna. "Centre's Events are an Asset to the City". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Historic England. "Former Church of St Edmund (1355852)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  4. ^ "St Edmunds Art Trust Limited". Charity Commission. Retrieved 31 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Geocaching. "Description of Salisbury Arts Centre".
  6. ^ Harris, Brian. "Capital Case Study: Salisbury Arts Centre" (PDF). Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Fanfare and cheers greet arts centre reopening". Gazette and Herald. 26 May 2005. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Salisbury Arts Centre". Archived from the original on 16 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Wiltshire Creative". Charity Commission. Retrieved 31 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Wiltshire Creative: Report of the Trustees" (PDF). Charity Commission. 31 March 2019. p. 2.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "People Like You at Arts Centre". Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Salisbury Arts Centre Leads Consortium to Catalyst Arts Success". Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  13. ^ Morwenna, Blake. "Community Arts Project in Tidworth". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  14. ^ Meech, Ruth. "Salisbury Arts Centre to Hold Free Family Fiesta". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  15. ^ Blake, Morwenna. "Musical Treats at Arts Centre". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Salisbury Arts Centre houses crochet coral reef display". BBC Wiltshire.
  17. ^ Stock, Christine (2 July 2015). "Sounds like classic punk". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Results from Salisbury Arts Centre's Preloader Heat". Media Hubbub, 17 Feb 2011
  19. ^ "Salisbury Gig History". BBC. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  20. ^ Riddle, Joe (15 May 2015). "Angry protests against "tragic" Salisbury Arts Centre's budget cut". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  21. ^ Hemley, Matthew (13 March 2015). "Salisbury Arts Centre describes 100% funding cut as a "huge blow"". The Stage. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  22. ^ Pugh, R.B.; Crittall, Elizabeth, eds. (1956). "Victoria County History: Wiltshire: Vol 3 pp389-392 - Colleges: St Edmund, Salisbury". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 31 August 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°04′20″N 1°47′31″W / 51.07224°N 1.79183°W / 51.07224; -1.79183