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Image: Grays Wharf, the home of GW Arts' current arts centre in Penryn, which is similar to what they wish to create with the restoration of the School Room. Photo courtesy of GW Arts CIC.
Image: Grays Wharf, the home of GW Arts' current arts centre in Penryn, which is similar to what they wish to create with the restoration of the School Room. Photo courtesy of GW Arts CIC.

Grants awarded to transform historic buildings in Cornwall into thriving creative centres

16 June 2022

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is delighted to announce two new grants to advance plans to transform historic buildings in Penryn and Penzance into creative centres, both of which will help to improve the wellbeing of the community through the creative arts.

These grants were among nine awards given out in the latest grants meeting, where projects ranging geographically from Cornwall to Belfast were offered funding totalling £124,341. You can find more information about the projects in Penryn and Penzance below.

School Room, Penryn, Cornwall – GW Arts CIC

Images: The exterior of the School Room (left) and the interior of the first floor of the School Room in Penryn (right). Photos courtesy of GW Arts CIC. 

Located behind the Penryn Methodist Church, the School Room is a Grade II-listed building constructed in 1891 as a Sunday School. Since the Sunday School’s closure, the building has been used by the Church for functions and by local organisations for community activities, however, this use has declined over recent years.

In 2017, GW Arts CIC was established as a community arts organisation with a mission to improve lives through the creative arts. The organisation plans to sympathetically restore the School Room as a high-quality creative destination for Penryn town centre, with a community art room, a gallery space and a professional hub for the creative industries. Once brought back to life, the building will also provide the Penryn community with a space to improve their health and wellbeing through engagement with creativity and to develop their creative careers through workspace, exhibition platforms and training.

The AHF Project Viability Grant will fund the cost of a project manager, a surveyor report, a property valuation, a feasibility study and legal advice to help kickstart the project.

Parade Chambers, Penzance, Cornwall – MusicAbility Foundation

Images: The exterior of 10 Parade Street (left) and a performance inside 10 Parade Street in Penzance (right). Photos courtesy of MusicAbility Foundation.

Completed in 1827, 10 Parade Street was the first permanent home for the Morrab Library and also housed the libraries of the Royal Cornwall Geological Society and the Cornwall Agricultural Society. Additionally, the Grade II-listed building was once the base for a shipping company, as well as a home to the Magistrates office and philanthropic societies who did charitable work in the town. Currently, the ground floor of the building is in use as income-generating office space, however, the basement and first floor are vacant.

MusicAbility is a community arts foundation working to enrich lives by providing flexible and inclusive multi-musical opportunities. After 10 Parade Street was gifted to MusicAbility in March 2022, the Foundation has devised plans to bring disused parts of the building back to life, creating a public music centre with areas for music therapy, music education, music for social wellbeing, public concerts and lectures. The Recital Hall and rehearsal space is already being used for instrumental teaching, youth music ensembles and for online performances livestreamed to care homes across England.

The AHF Project Development Grant will fund the cost of professional fees to enable the Foundation to begin bringing their full vision to life.

If you are interested in how cultural spaces and activities like the ones being created by these projects can help to revitalise high streets and make them more diverse, distinctive and local, then you might like to register for the new Open High Streets event, ‘High Street Regeneration: High Streets as Cultural Centres.’ For more information and tickets, please visit

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