Venue costs affecting Chichester clubs

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A Chichester club has said increasing costs for hiring halls across the area are causing difficulties for smaller groups who want to show their work to the wider community.

The issue has been highlighted by members of Chichester Camera Club, which held its new year exhibition last week at North Mundham Village Hall.

It said staging the event had cost around £1,000 and its summer exhibition, held every year at the Assembly Rooms in Chichester, came close to £2,000.

“I just feel it’s extortionate,” said member Rosie Armes. “There are many, many smaller clubs who would love to exhibit their work once a year – I wonder how many could afford £1,000.

“I don’t think the public are aware of how much it costs; I think they would be horrified.”

Chairman John Bradshaw said it was a struggle and expensive to rent a large space, but said it was difficult for the halls as well.

“The prices are going up but the village halls are facing cuts from council and so forth.

“Both the halls at Tangmere and North Mundham are all owned by councils and subject to cutbacks and one of the things they have to do is increase their charges.”

Mrs Armes said: “We did receive a lottery grant but had to prove we are going out into the community to give something back which we do.

“There are other smaller groups of people and lots and lots of things going on.

“None of the clubs can afford that sort of money and considering we are supposed to be supporting the arts in Chichester.”

Sallyann Dunn, show organiser for the West Sussex Guild of Craftsmen, said: “Venues do tend to cost more each year, although not all of them; some of them are relatively stable.

“The bigger halls cost lots of pennies. Obviously we try to put a show on in a bigger venue, they charge a bigger set fee, therefore we have to sell more to make ends meet and so you don’t necessarily go for bigger halls.”

Bookings secretary for Lavant Village Hall Tony Bleach said: “I think the main trouble round this area is that so many of the halls have been refurbished and rebuilt, they are trying to recover the amount of money.”

Mr Bleach said Lavant charged reasonable rates which were enough to cover heating. It increased fees slightly every two years but aimed to be affordable.

Clerk of Tangmere Parish Council Moya Monachan said the parish had not increased charges for five years; there were various rates and if groups felt they deserved a special rate they could apply.

Two refurbishment programmes were scheduled to take place soon and a review of fees would be carried out in March. She said the council did not see it as a profit-making facility but for the community.