I AM delighted that the renaissance of The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre continues, with new investment from Arts Council England (ACE) announced last week.

ACE has demonstrated their confidence in our charity (Taunton Theatre Association) by awarding a grant to help support our artistic programmes and grow audiences. Last year we delivered over 1,000 events and welcomed 71,500 visitors, showing increased demand for our live shows, activities, exhibitions and films.

Some of the companies and names who will be appearing over the next few months include the Shakespeare Globe on Tour, comedian Jack Dee, international Soprano Lesley Garrett, award-winning Russell Maliphant Dance Company, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and cricket broadcaster Johnathan Agnew.

Numerous new classes and courses run throughout the year, from silver-smithing to Community Choirs, Youth Theatre to Senior Dance Clubs, with many activities for tiny tots. You can even learn to paint like Van Gogh, learn Flamenco or join Mathew Bourne’s New Adventures for a Swan Lake Summer School.

This is The West Country:

PLEASED: Vanessa LeFrancois

At the heart of our work is our support for South West based artists. Some of the grant will support the research and development of original new work by Wassail Theatre Company, whose work derives from Somerset’s rich heritage and ZoieLogic Dance Theatre whose all-male company challenges perceptions on dance stereotypes.

We also plan to co-commission a new musical Wasp Woman, based on the 1950s sci-fi B movie, by playwright Bea Roberts whose plays And then Came the Night Jars and Infinity Pool: A Modern Re-telling of Madame Bovary toured to The Brewhouse recently.

This grant from Arts Council England validates the terrific work the team and our volunteers have done since 2014. The funding climate is extremely challenging and competitive at present, with limited investment in the South West, particularly Somerset. Without funding, arts organisations like us simply cannot deliver the variety and quality of entertainment we provide day-in and day-out.

We are grateful to ACE for this investment which will help us continue to improve our cultural offer for communities. We look forward to working with the newly formed Somerset West and Taunton Deane to realise our shared ambition for a vastly improved venue.

Vanessa Lefrancois

Chief Executive of Taunton Theatre Association