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Tamworth Arts Centre : History

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Tamworth Arts Centre

Sus – 7:84
Tamworth Arts Centre

01/02/03 May
Taming of the Shrew
Tamworth Arts Centre

Tamworth Herald – 11/04/80
Holiday Paint-in at Arts Centre
CALLING all youngsters…a holiday “Paint-in” just for you is being put on at Tamworth Arts Centre on three days next week.

It’s really a do-it-yourself art exhibition for children who are being invited to come into the Church Street centre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 15, 16 and 17, and paint their own pictures.

Materials including big sheets of cardboard will be provided together with pencils and lots of paint.

The paint-in is being sponsored by the Arts Advisory Council and the Friends of the Arts Centre and is being run in conjunction with Tamworth Visual Arts Group.

“It’s the first time we’ve tried anything quite like this,” said Centre manager Dave Armour.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nite
Tamworth Arts Centre

All for your delight and tastebuds
Tamworth Arts Centre

Tamworth Herald – 01/08/80
Calling all local poets
Can you write a poem. If so, you could win an award in a poetry competition to be held at Tamworth.

With classes for both adults and children, the contest is being sponsored by FACT – the Friends of Tamworth Arts Centre – and is being run as part of the town’s Autumn Arts festival.

Entry forms with full details of the contest are now available from the Arts Centre, Church Street and from Tamworth Central Library.

The closing date is October 1.

Tamworth Herald – 08/08/80
Duo planned elaborate hoax to get inside Arts Centre building

A 19-year-old man who worked on a government training scheme at Tamworth Art Centre used his “inside information” to plan a break-in, magistrates heard.

Kevin Knowles of Sharpe Street, Amington had been working as a printer at the arts centre for five months on the youth opportunities programme when he planned the raid with 17-year-old Martin France.

Earlier on the day of the break-in, France had been put on probation by Tamworth magistrates on four charges of burglary and theft and one of obstructing a police officer.

France, of Canning Road, Glascote, pleaded guilty to the charge of burglary and theft and was fined a total of £60 for the other offences. He was put on probation for three years for the most recent offence.

Knowles also admitted the charge and was put on probation for two years. Both were ordered to pay £19.54 compensation and £20 costs.

Mr. Derek Wassall prosecuting, said: “Knowles was employed at the arts centre as a printer and he was aware of where the cash was stored.


“They made a plan that France should stay in the building after it had been locked up at night. France went into the centre in the early afternoon and stayed there until about 5pm,” added Wassall.

The court heard that France had given the centre manager the impression he was leaving after going out of the front entrance. Knowles had let him in again through the Lower Gungate entrance and France had hidden in a wardrobe upstairs.

Later, Knowles joined France in the building and they stole £180 in cash from the coffee bar area.

In a statement to the police Knowles said that he knew that a “considerable amount” of money was left in the centre overnight.

“We decided that Martin would stay in the centre and I would wait outside. When we were in the building I put on a pair of rubber gloves that were in the kitchen. Martin started to throw things about and make a general mess to make it look like an outside job,” Knowles said.

Mr. Jan Jellema defending Knowles said that he had never been in trouble before and the incident was a “Temporary derailment” in his life.


“He has blotted a very good copy book. He was held at the police station for 24 hours and that was the most traumatic experience of his life,” added Mr. Jellema.

“He had the inside information, and certainly he has committed a very serious offence. It is out of character and it is not something that is going to be repeated.”

Caption: At home in their cottage at Two Gates – Dave and his wife Pauline with two-year-old daughter Kelli.Tamworth Herald – 08/08/80
As Tamworth Arts Centre manager Dave Armour prepares to take up a new job in london, SUE FISHER looks back at his work in the town and what lies ahead.

AFTER five years as Manager of Tamworth Arts Centre, Dave Armour is moving on.
He’s landed a newly-created job in London which will give him the chance to do in a big way what he’s attempted on a much smaller scale here and elsewhere. And, unbelievable as it sounds in these days of national belt-tightening, he will have a £30,000 a year budget to draw on.

The Greater London Council has agreed to make the money available – it’s actually £30,000 a year for the next five years for “contemporary arts” provision on estates in Deptford.

The mere fact that the scheme has attracted that kind of support makes it unique in the country and to Dave, who will be running it, it makes a not-to-be-missed opportunity to do what has always been close to his heart – to take the arts in the widest sense, to the people.

“It is a tremendously exciting project,” he says. “There’s no other scheme anywhere with the same sort of long-term commitment from local government funds.”

“Instead of rushing into things, I’ll have time to get out and about, to talk to people and really get to know them, to find out what their needs are and what they want. It’s a question of getting them to become involved in the running of their community and the recreational facilities of the area.”

“This is basically what a community arts project is about – you can’t define it in specific terms because how it develops depends so much on the people themselves.”

Liverpudlian Dave, who was appointed Manager of Tamworth Arts Centre when it first opened in 1975, says frankly that he feels he’s gone as far as he can here and it’s time to break new ground.


He believes the council-owned Arts Centre – housed in a building formerly used as a Baptist chapel, but originally built as a town theatre over 200 years ago – is now established as a focal point for the arts.

People know that’s the place to go to find out what’s on, or how to go about it if they want to get involved in the arts activities themselves.

The centre is a regular venue not just for local groups like the Little Theatre, but also for professional touring shows promoted by the West Midlands Arts Association. This touring programme, now enjoyed by many towns in the region, was in fact Dave’s own idea, understandably he’s proud of that.

He and his wife Pauline started a Saturday Club for youngsters, still thriving and more groups such as the Tamworth Film Makers, the Visual Arts Group and the Arts Centre Theatre Company – TACT – have sprung up and flourished.

And, of course, there’s FACT – Friends of the Arts Centre – a support group of volunteers who beaver away, raising money to help improve facilities and doing what they can to make the centre more widely known and used.


Thirty-four-year-old Dave thinks there’s a pretty solid foundation for the arts to build on at Tamworth.

He says: “The kind of work that needs to be done now requires a bit more money than the town is able to provide.”

“I think the emphasis needs to be changed now. I would like to see a far more…approach made to the people who out there and attempts made to get them more involved.

“In fact, we tried this about 12 months after I came here. We got involved in what was called the Belgrave Community Festival. The idea being to work with the people on the estate, to try and get them to provide their own entertainment and bring in new things themselves.”

“I would have liked to see an extension of that, but since it wasn’t possible given the economic climate, I felt there wasn’t really a lot more I could have done. The kind of thing we did in Belgrave is basically what I’ll be doing on a larger scale at Deptford.

In his new job, Dave won’t be employed by a local authority, as he is here, but by a company called the Brighton Combination. They’re the resident theatre company at Deptford’s Albany Empire Community Arts Centre.


“They started off as a small scale touring company and are now one of the top companies in London,” says Dave.

“Since they were invited to open their scheme at the Albany, all sorts of arts schemes have burgeoned there. There’s a resident potter for example and a range of workshops.

“The Combination are branching out even more and have got this £30,000 a year sum from G.L.C. to run a new community arts project.

“That’s where I come in and I must say I’m looking forward to it. Of course, salaries come out of the £30,000 and the project administrators will need to approve ideas as to just how it should be spent, but it is certainly very exciting to be working within that kind of budget.


“And then, of course, the Albany have managed to raise £2 million to build a brand new centre and that will be opening in September next year.”

Dave’s past experience not just in the arts, but in all kinds of jobs, should be invaluable since he’ll be working closely with people of all ages.

In fact, his background…through a series of lucky breaks, as he puts it, than conscious career planning.


He started off in a British Rail booking office. Later he went in for cost accountancy after a crash course at a rapid results college but found himself squeezed out of his job through no fault of his own.

He knows what it’s like to be out of work in one of the country’s worst unemployment blackspots – Skelmersdale.

In his early twenties he turned his hand to all sorts of things to keep out of the dole queue. He swept factory floors, minded machines, cleaned windows.

By this time he’d got involved with a theatre company and found he was spending more time with them than he was window cleaning.

His first real break came after local government re-organisation, when by chance, he got to hear of a play-scheme post with a Merseyside authority.

He got the job and thoroughly enjoyed working with young people.

“Then I began to feel the need for a proper base and that’s when I came to Tamworth as manager of the Arts Centre,” he says. “Now, once more, I’ll be getting out into the community.”

Dave hopes the Saturday Club for children will continue to thrive and that TACT, who won so many awards at festivals this year and who have attracted quite a lot of talented young drama enthusiasts, will go from strength to strength.

“I hope they will – I think TACT has given people a chance to investigate their own potential and stretch themselves with plays they wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to be involved in. It’s really up to them now to decide they want to carry on.”

Dave officially takes up his new job in September, but he’ll be around at week-ends, at least until Christmas.


His wife, Pauline, who teaches in Birmingham, and who hasn’t had a chance to get a new job yet, will be staying on till then anyway – with, of course, their two-year-old daughter Kelli.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but is shouldn’t be for too long and obviously I’ll get back when I can,” said Dave.

Tamworth Herald – 08/08/80
Question mark hangs over successor
The question of who will succeed Dave as Manager of the Arts Centre is wide open.

And the job itself will come under scrutiny – because of the local government cut-backs, posts which become vacant have to be ‘re-justified’ before a new appointment can be made.

A decision about the Arts Centre managership is not likely for some time with the holiday season now in full swing and the next cycle of council committee meetings not due until September.

But is is hoped to keep the centre going in the meantime, with the help of the two other people who work there.

Said Borough Council Arts and Recreation Officer, Mr. Geoff Beales “We’re looking into ways of asking existing staff to take on a slightly wider role to keep things going.”

“ We will honour any block commitments – such as rehearsals – plus things still going on as part of the Autumn Arts Festival.”

Tamworth Herald – 08/08/80
Autumn Arts festival shelved

Tamworth Herald – 22/08/80
Letters to the Editor
Tribute to Dave Armour
Dear Sir,
Due to a stay in hospital, I was unable to write this letter at the immediate time and would be very grateful if you would print it now.

It concerns both Dave and Pauline Armour.

I am sure that I speak for everyone within and around the Belgrave area who took part and helped organise the Belgrave Festival when I say good luck and God Bless to you in your new venture.

I think the work which Dave and his associates put in, created a turning point for the better and broke down barriers of uncertainty which one finds in newly built areas.

To lose someone as dedicated to his work as Dave will leave a gap in many activities. Dave, it’s been a pleasure knowing you. All the best.

Tamworth Herald – 22/08/80
Scene Around – It’s all happening at the Arts Centre
It’s all happening at Tamworth Arts Centre this week.

The centre’s annual holiday play scheme for youngsters is in full swing. And it seems a good time is being had by all.

The scheme includes drama, craft, games and competitions and has been open to children aged seven and over.

Tamworth Herald – 29/08/80
Letters to the Editor
Another tribute
Dear Sir,
I would like to add my good wishes to Dave and Pauline Armour in their new work.

I will miss them personally for their pleasant manner – Saturday nights at Tamworth Arts Centre will not seem the same again.

The hard work they contributed to every production they undertook was so evident in the rewarding results.

They also engaged some brilliant artistes to perform for us on so many Saturday nights.

Good luck, Dave and Pauline, it was a pleasure to know you.


Caption: Coming to Tamworth next month – the poet Brian Patten. He has built up a massive popular audience for his poetry and last autumn undertook the longest-ever tour by a British poet.Tamworth Herald – 19/09/80
Autumn Arts Festival – Entertainment for everyone
The programme:
Tamworth Arts Club on Tour
The Midlands Chorale
The Laasphe Choir
Cliff Hanger Theatre Company
Poetry Evening with Brian Patten
Orchestra de Camera
Tamworth Little Theatre
Bonfire Spectacular
FACT Craft Fayre
Sunday Brass Band concerts

Tamworth Herald – 26/09/80
London trip for Arts Centre youngsters
OFF on an evening trip to London tomorrow, Saturday, are youngsters from Tamworth Arts Centre Saturday Club.

Together with other groups from the Old Vic Children’s Theatre – they are to take part in a drama production at the Albany Empire Community Arts Centre, Deptford.

This is where former Tamworth Arts Centre Manager Dave Armour is now working.

The children will be joining in a sponsored drama workshop event being held to raise money for a new theatre in Deptford.

Autumn Arts Festival – Entertainment for everyone

Tamworth Herald - 03/10/80
Change likely in Arts Centre management
TAMWORTH Arts Centre could be run in future by the town’s Arts Advisory Council instead of the Borough Council.

Management of the Church Street Centre could pass to the voluntary body if a deal satisfactory to both sides can be worked out.

Tamworth Herald – 24/10/80
Popular poet at Arts Centre
A GREAT favourite with children and adults, poet, Brian Patten – he is featured in the Oxford book of 20th Century Verse – will be reading some of his poems and talking about his work at the Arts Centre tomorrow, Saturday evening.

Published in many languages, Brian has built up a massive popular audience for his poetry.

Presented by the Friends of the Arts Centre, the evening starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are £1, 50p for students and pensioners.

Tamworth Herald – 30/10/80
Change likely in Arts Centre management control

Tamworth Herald – 31/10/80
Arts Centre Talks Continue
DISCUSSIONS are still going on about the future of Tamworth Arts Centre and the town’s Arts Advisory Council says it will be happy to take over the building subject to satisfactory terms being agreed with the Borough Council.

Owned and run by the Borough Council for the last five years, the Church Street centre has been kept going by part-time staff since former Manager Dave Armour left Tamworth in September.

There has been no talk of another full-time manager for the building and it has been suggested that management could pass to the voluntary Arts Advisory Council.

Advisory Council Secretary, Mr. Dan Gronow, said this week, “As I understand the situation at the moment, the Borough Council are considering the possibility of paying running costs and may also think about some sort of supplementary grant which would taper off over a certain period.

“But I think both sides accept in principle that the centre will devolve to the voluntary groups.”

At the Advisory Council’s October meeting last week, representatives from local arts groups said they were anxious to see professional shows as well as amateur performances continue at the centre.

They also said they wanted to see it as a “real home” for the various Tamworth groups.


Said. Mr. Dennis Taylor from Tamworth Little Theatre: “At the moment, unfortunately, it is seen as an extension of the Borough Council’s recreation department.

“Someone once said it would like a mini-Assembly Rooms and really that is what it has degenerated into – it lacks a soul.

“It’s a psychological thing – people will take a lot more interest in the place if it’s recognised as a real “home”. You’ve got to create the right atmosphere.

Tamworth Herald – 31/10/80
Great night for the poets
A GREAT NIGHT – that was the verdict on the poetry evening at Tamworth Arts Centre on Saturday.

Craft Fayre
Tamworth Arts Centre 10.00am to 4.00pm

Tamworth Herald – 21/11/80
Disappointment at Council decision on Arts Centre
TAMWORTH societies anxious to see the Church Street Arts Centre become a “real home” for the arts are disappointed and upset by a council decision taken by borough councillors last week.

Tamworth Herald - 05/12/80
Who should run arts centre?
THE big question of who should run Tamworth Arts Centre is wide open again.

And this week, Councillor Ron cook, Chairman of the Borough Leisure Committee, said he would be happy to meet members of the Arts Advisory Council who are concerned about the future of the centre.

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