Despite the cash from the sale of the Passmore Edwards Institute being for a new community centre, Helston’s theatre, museum and arts centre have formed a joint bid to get thier hands on the cash.

Currently the full £158,000 left from the sale of the Passmore Edwards Institute (after fees were deducted) has been put in a dedicated budget by the town council, meaning it cannot be spent on anything other than a new community centre.

However, the Epworth Hall, Helston Museum and the Cornubian Arts and Science Trust (CAST), which has turned the institute into an arts centre, will tomorrow (Thursday) call up the council to instead split that money between the three organisations.

This would fund projects such as a research database, visitor centre and greater access to theatre, not a community centre.

They believe their bid is given extra weight as it fits with a covenant put on the 3 Penrose Road building, which carried over with the sale. This states that two thirds of the sale proceeds must be spent on an “institute of technical instruction”.

In their supporting statement, CAST chairman Teresa Gleadowe, Epworth Hall chairman Mark Upton and David Turnbull, secretary of the South Kerrier Heritage Trust that now runs the museum, described Helston’s history and architectural heritage as “unique selling points” that had to be built on and exploited for the future of the town.

“Helston has a fine town centre and draws its identity from a richness of heritage and culture, and yet we do not do enough to promote this strength,” they argued.
The museum wants the money to help increase visitor numbers and encourage people to stay in the town longer.
The heritage trust plans to provide a visitor information centre in the entrance to the museum, as they believe visitors currently struggle to find their way around the town. The National Trust has offered to provide a National Trust Information Point alongside this.

There is also a plan to create an accessible “research database” that can be used by all members of the public. This would feature a computer suite supported by a cataloguing programme, which would allow visitors to search the artefacts, photographs and documents within the museum collection, electronically.

Access to the Epworth Hall forms their part of the bid, as currently it does not comply with latest standards and restricts who can use it. It also prevents some touring groups and organisations from using the hall.

Finally, CAST needs money to continue the refurbishment of its building and build on projects such as a community cafe, which would also serve visitors to the nearby museum.
The trio of organisations added: “Helston needs support and investment now and we believe that each of these organisations can contribute very significantly to developing the town for the benefit of its community, raising its profile for national and international visitors, and arresting its continuing decline.”

Their bid will depend on a decision made by councillors earlier in tomorrow’s meeting, when councillor Martine Knight will ask for the proceeds of the institute sale to be reallocated for community projects. The meeting begins at 7.15pm in the council chambers above the Guildhall.