Winchester Theater Arts looking for a new home after spending more than four decades at Worthys Jubilee Hall
A long-established art school is looking for a new home after spending more than four decades in the same party hall.
Winchester Theater Arts has been teaching dance and musical theater to children in Kings Worthy for 45 years.
Based in Jubilee Hall, the family business started with just 15 students on a Saturday morning.
It is now home to 10 times that number, welcoming students as young as three years old and supervising them up to 19 years old.
However, school principal Claire Goodwin said her hours had recently been reduced by school administrators.
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Registered with the Charities Commission, the trustees told him they felt the room should instead be made available for later ‘community use’.
This, coupled with rising rental costs, forced her to consider moving the much-loved organization to new pastures.
She said: ‘They raise our prices in September and this is the second time this year. We are not too comfortable with the decision as we do not want to pass it on to our customers during this difficult time. They also limit the number of hours we can use the room, and that’s going to make it harder for us.
“Our popularity continues to grow and we are expanding, so we need more space than ever before. Unfortunately, that means we have to look for a new home.
Ms Goodwin has handed day-to-day running of the school to her daughter, Laura, after spending most of her working life at the helm.
She said she helped “hundreds, if not thousands” of children to pursue their passion during her tenure, some of whom went on to perform in the West End.
In fact, in the next few months, the school is expecting the arrival of its first third-generation child. Steeped in history, Ms Goodwin said while the move could prove to be an exciting step in the school’s journey, it will be an equally emotional moment when the curtain falls on her time in the hall.
“It got us thinking about the future,” she said. “It could be an exciting time with all sorts of possibilities, but we have to find that new home.
“For me, personally, it’s going to be quite sad because that’s where I started school and we’ve had hundreds, if not thousands of students who we consider family.
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“What we’re doing is clearly very successful, and we just want to continue with what we love.”
Having just finished their annual show – which saw more than 130 children perform over three days – Ms Goodwin said no move was imminent and the school would continue to use both the venue and its studio for the moment.
The Charities Commission has been contacted for comment.