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Tensions rise between Friends of Trowbridge town hall and trustees

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Fri 13 Nov 2015

Tensions rise between Friends of Trowbridge town hall and trustees

In a meeting between the Friends and trustees last Thursday, volunteers aired their concerns over the placed emphasis on arts in comparison to the town hall’s other charitable interests including community, heritage and culture.

Dennis Drewett, who has been involved with the volunteering group for two years, said he is saddened to see the way the relationship has broken down.

“I think the majority of the residents in Trowbridge love the building and would love to see it be brought back into the community. My fear is that it is going in another direction,” he said.

As a result of the fallout, historical tours of the town hall have been suspended until further notice as not enough volunteers have been turning up.

Fellow Friend Mike Snelling said despite recently resigning as a trustee, he believes the trustees are wanting to move the town hall into a professional arts centre.

He added: “I don’t believe the trustees are fulfilling their charitable aims and status of combining community, arts, heritage and culture and it seems they are only interested in being a professional arts centre.

“Everything from cleaning loos, to painting and stewarding events is what the Friends do and so it is the little things like that which are very important to the overall function of the town hall.”

There are around 50 Friends but since they voiced their concerns last week, many have not returned to the town hall.

Clare Jack, who chairs the board of trustees, said there had been no decision about the creative direction of the town hall and believes the conflict stems from a lack of communication.

“Inevitably, with a complicated project like the town hall, there will be differences of opinion over how things should move forward and we know some of the Friends have concerns and they are fully entitled to have those views,” she said.

“I think it comes down to a lack of communication and understanding and there is no doubt that we will continue to be what we were set up as, which is to focus on the arts, culture, heritage and community.

“We will continue to grow as we have been doing by including all elements because that is the only way, as a business, we can do which is financially sustainable.

“It is a matter of balancing the four elements through the events and it doesn’t mean we will always get it right for everyone but we will continue to provide what we have been doing. We cannot just have the arts or just the community element, we need all four to be successful.”

The town hall is now looking for new volunteers to meet the shortfall. For more information, call 01225 77430

By Tanya Yilmaz   13 November 2015