Nominated by: Joan Law
Queens Park Arts Centre is at the heart of the cultural landscape in Buckinghamshire – for more than forty years it has championed an ‘arts for all ethos’ which has had a profound effect on the local community.
Housed in a building dating back to 1905, Queens Park is an important local landmark and an instantly-recognisable one at that. Initially built as a school – attended by local music heroes John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett – the building was used as a hospital facility during the First World War, and then became Queens Park Arts Centre in 1980. It stands as one of the largest independent arts centres in the UK.
Running accessible workshops all year round, the Centre has done a huge amount to promote engagement with the visual and performing arts in Buckinghamshire over the last four decades. Generations have grown up attending classes and performances, with the greatest emphasis being on the importance of creativity as part of a enriching and balanced life. Few areas of the country have such a brilliant platform for granting the community access to high-quality art resources and tuition.
The Centre has attracted high-profile artists and performers to the town, including famous ceramicists John Leech and Chris Brambles, and performers including Eddie Izzard, Show of Hands and Theatre de Complicite. Local talent including Callow Saints and the aforementioned Otway & Barrett have played the venue, which has given emerging artists a chance to perform and develop ever since it opened.
Today, Queens Park continues to be the powerhouse of art and culture in Aylesbury Vale. With a prolific programme of workshops, exhibitions, performances and events taking place on site, as well as increasing presence at town centre events providing free activities, plus outreach work bringing arts tuition to thousands of children in local schools.
As a building, Queens Park blends a fantastic example Buckinghamshire’s history with its important cultural activities still taking place today. It represents a strong sense of community and the value of participation in the arts being just as valuable (if not more so) than celebrating excellence in the industry. It’s a fantastic example of a resource open to all, not only offering formal classes and performances, but also a space in which creative people can develop and explore their skills as part of the personal and professional development.
Queens Park Arts Centre was nominated by Joan Law