KIRKHAM Henry Performing Arts Centre is marking 25 years by looking to its future development.

To help expand the facilities on offer and reach a wider section of the local community, a new campaign has been launched to raise awareness and funds.

Established in 1989, the Malton-based centre has since seen thousands of students pass through the doors, many going on to national and international success.

DIrector Angela Kirkham said that for most of the 25 years fundraising efforts had taken place through The Friends of Kirkham Henry.

"Although Kirkham Henry has always operated on a charitable and not-for-profit basis many attempts have been declined to gain access to grants and funding because Kirkham Henry was classed as a privately owned business," she added.

"Myself and fellow co-founder Jennie Henry therefore took professional advice and in 2010 decided to become a Community Interest Company."

Angela said that in order to do so they had to make the decision to forfeit their ownership of the building at Horsemarket Road and effectively give it over to the community.

"We took this difficult decision to ensure that the Performing Arts Centre would continue to operate for the unforeseen future for the benefit of the local community," she added.

"In order to do so however, the building still requires development and expansion."

Angela said most urgently needed was a male changing room to accommodate the growing amount of boys participating at classes and those who over the years had become members of Ryedale Youth Theatre, a registered charity, which is based at the centre. Disabled access and facilities have also always been on the list of priorities.

"It is hoped that the formation of the Kirkham Henry Community Interest Company will allow access to government and local grants and sponsorship and the development plans will be able to be put in place as soon as possible," she added.

" The Company , which is now run by a board of totally voluntary directors, is also aiming to raise awareness within the local community as to just exactly what goes on at the centre and how much the activities that take place there benefit the whole community.

Angela added: " The Company would welcome any help of any kind to ensure that Kirkham Henry will be able to continue to provide the excellent services that it has become renowned for. "

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