Brewery launches 40th birthday facelift appeal

The Westmorland Gazette: Brewery chief executive Richard Foster with some of the Kendal arts centre's long-serving members of staff Brewery chief executive Richard Foster with some of the Kendal arts centre's long-serving members of staff

THE Brewery Arts Centre has reached a new milestone clocking up 40 years of inspired entertainment.

Today (Thursday) the Kendal arts centre celebrates its 40th birthday and at the same time launches its Fit For Forty £80,000 building appeal.

Chief executive Richard Foster said it was an exciting time: “After 40 years of hard work and an incredible amount of delivery we need to spruce up areas of the building and make it more comfortable for the visitor.”

Richard said the Malt Room and theatre would be the focus of the first round of fundraising and if the appeal kept going they would carry on with the facelift throughout the building.

The launch will also unveil The Timeline - a massive pictorial chronology of the history of the Brewery, featuring photos of the building, acts, gigs, events, personalities and staff members, which will stretch around the walls of the Intro Bar.

Also special events planned include It Happened at the Brewery, which will be staged on June 29/30 by the centre’s Youth Arts team, reminiscing and celebrating some of the highlights from four decades of Brewery programming.

In August there will a a special Super Summmer Sunday featuring the Fabulous Piccaso Brothers and other local bands, and in September the celebrations centre on four art forms: visual art, music, theatre and dance, with several surprises in the pipeline: “All I can say at this stage is we’ll be working with international performers,” offered Richard.

Richard said the strength of the Brewery is the vast of amount of arts forms that are offered. He also said that the Brewery would be creating work that would “go out and spread the word about the Brewery and raise the profile of the region.”

Down the years the Brewery has hosted many leading performers such as John Martyn, George Melly, Michael McIntyre - and they don’t come much bigger in musical terms than mighty Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, who played the Brewery in 2000.

The inaugural International Women’s Festival in 2007 was another massive Brewery success with top names such as Marianne Faithfull and Patti Smith among the stars who graced the arts centre.

Originally built for brewing beer in 1847, the brewery was run by Whitwell Marks brewers and sold to the Sunderland-based Vaux Breweries in 1946.

Plans for an arts centre were first mooted in 1969 and Vaux sold the buildings and associated land to the Scott Trust for £21,000 in 1970. When the first director Robert Atkins was appointed in 1970 he lived in the house at the front of the Brewery where the YHA is now. The main building opened its doors on May 10, 1972, and the Leyland Clock installed in garden 1973.

Anne Pierson took over as Brewery director in 1975, a post she held until 2001. During Anne’s amazing tenure the Friends of the Brewery were formed and the new theatre built in 1998, opened by Alan Bennett. One of the most ambitious and biggest Brewery projects was the new cinema building, a huge logistical undertaking, opening in 1998.

Anne was succeeded by Sam Mason until 2010. Richard Foster became chief executive later that same year.

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