St Mary-in-the-Castle gets charity status

St Mary in the Castle
St Mary in the Castle
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PLANS to transform iconic St Mary-in-the-Castle into a cultural hub can now move forward as the venue has been granted charitable status.

Buckswood School was last year given permission to take on the lease of the Grade II listed building, in Pelham Crescent, from Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and run it through a charitable trust.

The keys were handed over in March, after a temporary licence was granted to enable the team to hold events while the application for charity status was processed, and repairs funded by HBC and English Heritage are already underway.

Following the decision last week by the Charity Commission, St Mary-in-the-Castle is now under the management of an independent board of 11 trustees, with Zoe Ashdown remaining the managing director.

The trustees designate have been meeting for the last six months to plan how they will run the venue.

Keith Leech, chairman of Jack-in-the-Green, who is one of the trustees, said: “This is fantastic. It means we can finally get on with doing what we want to do.

“We want to see the venue fully used putting on a wide range of arts and community events.

“Now we officially exist we can start applying for various grants and get ourselves on the arts touring circuit. It’s a big job and an expensive venue to just to keep open, so we need all the support we can get.”

Each of the trustees has their own portfolio, including arts and culture, education and youth, business development and communities.

The other 10 trustees are: Richard Beale, health and safety professional; Gilly Johnson, teacher; Councillor Judy Rogers; Lucy Monk, headteacher of Helenswood School; Marcus Weeks, classical and jazz musician; Sarah Kowitz, of The Kowitz Foundation; Ron Sollars, St Mary-in-the-Castle Friends; Laurence Walker, architect; Tom Frosdick, design and marketing professional; and Ian Noble, business connector for Hastings.