In December 2018, in search of office premises to support management and running of Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival, Scottish charity Trad Music Trust visited a former bank premises; ground floor space in an historic building on the town's main Victoria Street which, since it had been vacated by the bank in 2017, had remained unoccupied, boarded up and viewed by many in the community as an eyesore.
Unconventional, to say the least, the premises still contained the old bank vault, complete with heavy steel door, and was in a significant state of disrepair, both inside and out.
In its favour, however, was ramp access, automatic front door, private parking, two large offices, a large open-plan floor space, modern fire and intruder alarm systems, storeroom, kitchen and basic toilet facilities.
Not only did it have the office space the charity so desperately needed but there was also the potential, utilising the open-plan floor space, to develop the premises into a dedicated venue for live performances, rehearsal space and tutoring; supporting the charity’s plans to deliver a year-round programme of events and activities and, in the process, generating vital new income through ticket, bar and retail sales.
The Trust, many of whom live and/or work in Newton Stewart and with family and friends that also live/work there, felt that saving the building from further disrepair and bringing life back to the town’s main street would be good for Newton Stewart and a socially responsible thing to do.
Newton Stewart has not had a community centre since 2014 and many of the groups and organisations who used that centre are still operating out of village halls, portacabins, pubs/hotels or they simply stopped running altogether when the old community centre was closed. The new premises offered potential not only support the charity's projects but to also support other commnity groups, clubs and organisations.
Following a period of lengthy negotiation, the Trust managed to secure a 5-year lease on the premises, commencing 14th June 2019, with an agreement in principle for an additional 10 years beyond that if required.
It was a fantastic moment and a huge relief for everyone involved; the office equipment, IT hardware, PA system and event resources would, finally, be moving out of various homes and garages and into secure, dedicated, premises.
Acknowledging the unique bank vault feature in the building and the range of projects and activities that would be taking place in the building, it was agreed that the premises be called ‘The Vault Arts Centre’.
Following a short period for renovation and decoration, the centre was officially opened in November 2019.
You can read the full background story (2014-2020) on Trad Music Trust and The Vault Arts Centre by clicking the button below:
A community survey was carried out in December 2018 to establish what people felt about current music, arts and culture provision in the region, what type of activities and events they’d be interested in and how, where and when they’d like to see them delivered. The Trust received a fantastic 449 responses, 52% of which were from people under the age of 25.
84% of those surveyed felt that there were not enough music, arts and cultural events, activities and/or opportunities for people in Newton Stewart & Minnigaff and when asked what kind of music, arts and cultural events/activities people would like to see happening in Newton Stewart, 82% selected "Live Music", 49% selected "Theatre" and 42% selected "Arts & Craft Workshops or Classes".
68% also stated that they would prefer any new facilities in Newton Stewart to make use of existing vacant, abandoned or derelict buildings or premises.
Click the button below to view the full results of the community survey:
The Vault Arts Centre is supported by: