A POPULAR arts centre in Worcester was contemplating closure, possibly for ever, but now it is hoping to raise hundreds of thousands in funding.

Councillors at the Guildhall have agreed to grant Worcester Arts Workshop in Sansome Street £64,000 over two years to allow it to hire a fundraiser and a new senior manager and allow it to try and raise £1.2 million in grants from other trusts and foundations.

Programme Manager Sarah Cotterrill said: “This will allow us to try and raise money to transform the building, and that will allow us to become a much more accessible arts hub for the whole community.”

If the fundraising is forthcoming, the charity wants to increase the size of its classrooms for craft lessons such as pottery or glassblowing.

Sarah added: “We keep our prices low, which means we make very little income from our classes. We can get eight people in a classroom, for a craft activity, nine at a real push. We’d like to extend the classrooms to have more people. The extra income will allow us to offer more concessionary pricing - at the moment our margins are so small we can’t do that.

“The access for wheelchair users or with children in buggies is very poor. We’d like to have classrooms on the ground floor and a lift to all the floors, which means many more people could use the centre.

“That’s our aim, to provide access to the arts for everyone, from professional exhibitions and shows, to arts and health work, to offering development for students and something for the whole community.

At the Communities Committee meeting, chair of trustees of the Arts Workshop, Anne Hannaford told councillors that the charity was solvent and made a small surplus every year, but not enough to fund either expansion of the classes and events it offered, or to revamp its dilapidated building.

She said if the money was not granted the workshop had two options: "One is to close for a time, and try and raise the grants we need and re-open, and the other is to just close it down and walk away.”

Committee chairman committee Councillor Mike Johnson said: "If after 12 months there isn’t a certain percentage of the total in the pipeline, we should think about pulling the plug.”

After the vote, Ms Hannaford, told the councillors: “We won’t let you down.”