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Painswick Centre’s future hangs in the balance

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The Painswick Centre, formed 116 years ago as the Painswick Institute, is facing partial closure from June. Trustees have issued the following statement:

The Painswick Centre (registered charity no. 301595) is a thriving hub at the heart of the village. It was built in 1906 and opened in 1907 as the Painswick Institute, founded by a wealthy benefactor, Frances Sarah Williams. She said she believed “that an opportunity to engage in healthy recreation & amusement might tend to brighten men’s lives & benefit them both morally, mentally & physically”.

For very nearly 116 years it has done this, having been left in trust for the benefit of the people of Painswick and the surrounding villages. It has been clear for some years that the Centre’s income has not been meeting its mounting operating and maintenance costs, and despite huge efforts to increase its income in recent years, after a financial forecasting exercise the Trustees now have no choice but to partially close the Centre to try to save the charity from insolvency.

It will shut its doors to many of its valued users and the community on 12th June 2023. The community is being urged by the Trustees to complete a short survey to determine whether they want to save The Painswick Centre, or whether they would support its sale. The results of this survey will inform the next steps. Full statement to the community: We, the Trustees, hope that you have come to see The Painswick Centre as a thriving hub at the heart of our community. However, it is with heavy hearts that we must inform you that the charity is greatly at risk and will have to close its doors to many of our longstanding and highly valued users from 12th June 2023.

From this date all regular classes, activities and meetings will no longer be able to take place at the Centre, and we have spoken with all of our users to let them know. We do not underestimate the impact this will have and regret that this is the course of action we must take.

Please note that the Centre is not closing fully. All events up to 12th June will take place. In addition, we will support the following to remain operational beyond this date and we very much hope you will continue to support them too:

– Handmade in Painswick café & shop

– Art studios, home to Painswick Jewellery Workshop and four artists

– Thursday Morning Market

– Thursday takeaway Food Nights

– Bowling Club

It has been known for some years that the Centre’s income was only just washing its face. Work has been ongoing since the public consultation in 2018 to look at ways of increasing income and to develop a sustainable strategy for the Centre. However, the current board of Trustees, who came together in late 2022, have been reviewing the Centre’s finances in more detail, and after a forecasting exercise it has become clear that it is now not covering its costs – by a long way. Operating costs have continued to grow over several years and income has not kept up, creating a shortfall. In addition, the maintenance costs of this 116-year-old building are rising exponentially.

Cash reserves are being eaten into at such a rate that to save the charity from insolvency we need to halt some operations now. The Centre was opened to the community in 1907 having been funded by a wealthy benefactor, Frances Sarah Williams. She saw a need for a space where everyone in the village could get together and be provided with educational and social opportunities for the benefit of all. This means it exists purely for the community, held in trust by a board of Trustees who are caretakers of it on your behalf.

It has been many things and has faced many changes in its long life, but it has largely continued to operate within its original model: a space for hire and use by the community as required. In 2023, with much greater compliance requirements, rising costs, and a crumbling building to maintain, this model is simply no longer fit for purpose and the charity cannot survive even to the end of this year in its current form. The Centre is looked after by the Trustees on behalf of you, and we need to know what you want; next steps must be guided by the community. Essentially, we need to know how many people would support the drive needed to retain and refurbish the Centre, or how many would support the alternative of its sale, which would create a trust fund to be used to benefit the community. The answers to this survey will determine the next steps for the Centre. We need as many people as possible to complete the survey on our website www.painswickcentre.com. The survey will be open from 28th April to 9th June 2023.

If you are unable to complete the survey online, you will find paper copies at the following locations in Painswick: The Falcon; Goddards Garage; Longfield charity shop; Loovre art gallery; Meadows Painswick; The Oak; Painswick Community Library; Painswick Pharmacy; Painswick Stores; Painswick Surgery; Painswick Town Hall; St Michael’s bistro.

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