Stoke Newington church to become new arts centre

St. Mary's Stoke Newington. Pic: Andrew Hudson

St. Mary’s Stoke Newington. Pic: Andrew Hudson

A new community arts centre for Stoke Newington is set to open in a 450-year-old Elizabethan church later this year.

Project organisers St Mary’s Arts Centre for the Community (SMART) wish to turn the still-in-use Church Street building, into a hub for live music, art and creativity.

Andrew Hudson, chair of SMART, told Eastlondonlines: “The project will create a new space for the arts and for the whole community of Stoke Newington. The parish wants to open up the church, and we hope that different groups will get to know each other better, as well as get to know us better.”

Turkish cultural charity RenkArt, Stoke Newington School, Hackney Youth Services and arts company Common Air Theatre are also involved in the revamp effort. Hudson added: “There will be more space for concerts, exhibitions, and over events.”

Helen Wood, a staff member at Stoke Newington School, said: “The opening of St Mary’s Community Art Centre is crucial to the school, it is a natural extension of what we do.”

As part of the refurbishment programme, the church’s roof will be repaired, its historical pew boxes preserved, and a new heating system, kitchen and toilet facilities installed.

Funding of £100,000 has already been raised at previous events, with an additional £25,000 required before the grand opening, an open air festival scheduled for the beginning of October.

The church was built in the sixteenth century. Alterations were made in the 1800s by Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament. Leading the building work this time around will be Shoreditch-based architecture firm, Matthew Lloyd.

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