I think it’s been about 3 years or so now since we launched our fundraising appeal to build a christian performing arts and digital media centre. There’s been ups and downs but we have finally got plans and designs back from the architects. Things are definitely, finally, progressing.
There is still plenty of money to be raised but we’ve reached the point at which we’ve been able to start making a practical movement towards opening the centre. We have had plans put together for the building. This will include;
- function room for concerts which will also be used as a dance studio
- workshop for our print-shop so we can get back to our own in-house printing and expand our range of products
- reception area with cafe and shop space
- 3 booth music recording studio
- live stream-casting video studio
- range of offices and a training room
The property itself is costing us £280,000 but there are substantial structural issues that need to be dealt with. The full cost of developing the building is going to be an extra £650,000 – £700,000.
We have the funds in place to make the purchase and most of the structural build. There are plans in place to raise the remaining funds before the major building work is finished. However, we can develop the centre over time. If there is insufficient funds then work will be prioritised.
It feels as if it has been a long time in coming but finally we are seeing a conclusion in the (distant) future. Once spades hit the ground it will at least feel we’ve made progress.
A calling from God
Opening the christian media and arts centre has been core to our calling by God. We have blessed being able to provide small levels of support to individual young christian musicians and songwriters. This new media centre will be able to take us to a completely different level of supporting and encouraging young people.
Three years ago we used to have a thriving outreach with young people and children. We provided christian dance lessons, music lessons and other opportunities. But the cost of hiring rooms meant it was a drain on our resources so we ended them. By doing this we were able to commit more of our income to our building fund. Once our building takes shape we’ll be able to start offering courses and workshops in christian music, dance and drama again.
We will also have a place that we can open to the public. At the moment, as a house church, we don’t have facilities for the public to find out what we do or for young people to explore faith. We meet in a house and as such we can only work with our own church youth directly.
Equipping young people with the gospel
Our new centre will give us the chance to give young people the training, resources and encouragement they need to explore a career in christian music and performing arts. We will be able to give them the confidence to consider christian leadership for the future. We also aim to open their minds to taking on an extended missions placement as part of their christian development.
Aylward Centre for Performing Arts
We’ve also come to a decision about the name of the building. We’ve decided to call it the Aylward Centre in memory of Gladys Aylward, a christian missionary who dedicated her life to looking after children.
We feel that her story about following her calling against the odds, will be inspirational for to all. Despite being told she was not good enough, Gladys went on to do amazing things for Jesus. Our project will be there to support young christians develop their skills based on ability alone.
The final lap
When I first ventured out on this capital cost fundraising project I didn’t know or expect to meet some of the obstacles along the way. Or the amount of time these things take. But when you reach the stage of architects giving you sketches of the project, floorplans and schedule of works, then you know you’re on the final lap. And how happy I am about that.
DONATE TO AYLWARD CENTRE
I’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has donated towards our appeal and also to everyone who has organised fundraising events for our performing arts centre. Please don’t stop now, we are so close to the finishing line.