The trust behind plans to renovate the former community centre on Penrose Road have asked Helston town council to use cash from the sale to help create a ‘Cultural Quarter’

In August this year the building was purchased by two benefactors, Karen Townshend and Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, to “ensure that the building could continue to provide public benefit”.

Teresa Gleadowe and Karen Townshend from Cornubian Arts and Science Trust (CAST), set up to manage the building, made the request for help and cash at the town council meeting on Thursday, November 15.

Teresa spoke about plans for the future use of the building as artists’ studios, with the artists required to offer ‘public benefit’ through open studios, and mentoring as well providing a café and community space.

Calling the project “the most amazing opportunity for Helston” the trustees are asking that, as a proportion of the money raised from the sale of the building is to be used for purposes close to those of the original gift of land, the town council should delve deep and help financially.

They say that the new charity, CAST meets this remit as it aims to “educate in and promote the arts and sciences for the public benefit and to further the development of the public appreciation of the arts and sciences”. Councillors also heard that the Passmore Edwards building is in very poor condition after a “long history of neglect and long-term ingress of water” and that it had deteriorated during the period that it was boarded up, with evidence of both wet and dry rot.

In the last week the trustees have also learned that one of the roofs is structurally unsound.Teresa Gleadowe, chair of CAST said: “We remain hopeful that we can attract funding for a capital scheme to renovate the building. The town council's role in this campaign is crucial and we very much hope that some of the money spent on the purchase of the building can be ploughed back into repairing the building.

“We believe that the institute can bring substantial educational benefits and make a significant contribution to the revitalisation of the central area of Helston. In partnership with the Folk Museum, we believe that it can create a ‘Cultural Quarter’ that will contribute to the regeneration of the town.”

She added that the town council had been asked to show their support for the initiative by inviting a funding application from the trustees of CAST to provide seed money and match funding. This will enable the trustees to move forward with repairs and renovation of the building.Karen Townshend spoke of the trustees' desire to reserve the largest room in the Institute for community activities and said she would love to see Hal-an-Tow rehearsals return to the building.She added that the CAST team had experience of managing buildings and artists’ studios, as well as organising arts events, with the trustees being “nationally and internationally known and respected”.The town council said they could not discuss the Institute building at 3 Penrose Road as it was not on the agenda for that meeting, with cash from the sale already ‘ring fenced’. The council decided to consider it fully at a meeting next month.

After the meeting Teresa Gleadowe stressed that any successful fundraising needs seed money and has to demonstrate local support. She said she hoped that the town council would recognise that money from the sale of 3 Penrose Road could be used by arts and educational organisations in Helston to attract grant-funding and multiply the benefits to the town.