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The Rock to transform St Peter's Church hall in Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 25, 2013

  • ENTERPRISING YOUTH: Leon Hobson, Lameck Ondego and Tom Cook with Katharine Evans-Pritchard, Emily Van Der Lely and, front, Ben Lillie

  • St Peter's Church

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PLANS are in place to revamp an empty church into a recording studio.

The Rock, a youth organisation which works with pupils who struggle with mainstream education, has plans to transform St Peter's Church, which offers both great acoustics and atmosphere.

It wants to create a full recording studio environment, with a youth enterprise record label. It aims to build a dance studio as well.

St Peter's Church was given to the youth charity in April 2009 by the Diocese of Gloucester.

The team had hoped to remove the pews in the church to create a sports hall, but, after the seating was taken out, had to spend money on installing a new floor instead.

Funds have since been scarce and the charity has decided on another option, but is looking for funds for the next phrase of the project. Part of the plans include creating a stage to help their pupils with acting classes and other activities.

The organisation has gone into partnership with the Everyman Theatre. Head of community arts Camille Cowe said: "The Everyman Theatre is helping The Rock deliver its arts provision with young people.

"It would be fantastic to have this next phase of their development come to fruition.

"The young people and their performances would truly benefit from having a professional theatrical environment at The Rock."

The classes with the Everyman range between acting and graffiti. Ben Lillie, chief executive of The Rock, said the arts, such as acting, were an important part of the learning process for youngsters.

He said: "Expressive arts are such a key resource for The Rock. Creating a safe environment where young people can develop their self-expression and confidence is right at the heart of our mission.

"Working with Camille and the Everyman Theatre is brilliant.

"Their creativity and resourcefulness is infectious. Witnessing young people changing through drama, art and music is a genuine privilege."

Although a total has not been calculated, The Rock believes around £100,000 will cover the costs.

Anyone who can help should call 01242 700700.

OPINION, P8

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  • TheRockChelt  |  January 25 2013, 2:15PM

    Many thanks for this Echo In the interest of accuracy and quality reporting, I feel I must correct the following; We are not converting our beautiful church, which is still a listed place of worship into a recording studio. We are looking to develop recording studio potential to our already diverse mix of youth work. The Church is by no means 'Empty'! Try telling that to the many young people we work with in this space each and every week. We did very purposely remove the pews 2 summers ago in order to create this much used space. It was no accident and was strategically planned and delivered. The Rock always refers to our Young People as exactly that,'Young People' Not pupils, or youngsters. We are not a school. Our approach is Youth work based and focussed. Finances are increasingly challenging in the charity sector and we are always seeking more and new financial support. BUT, we have also had some wonderful people and trusts who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us and enabled this essential work so far. With regard to the editors comment on page 8 entitled 'A good cause', I thank Kevan for supporting us, however there was no "Failed attempt to create a sports hall...". The Rock is following it's strategic plan of development and the Church space and adjacent sports hall are exactly as we planned them and much used and enjoyed by many many young people. Kind Regards Ben Lillie - CEO The Rock

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