United Arts Centre continues to serve Sharpness community

ONCE a place of religious worship, a repurposed church in Sharpness is continuing to serve its community.

Marco Vaccaro bought the United Reformed Church, on Oldminster Road, with a view to making it into a creative space and communal gathering spot.

He renamed it the United Arts Centre, spent four years revamping the building, and threw the doors open to the community.

“My aim was to save an old local building and offer it back to the community to use,” said Mr Vaccaro.

With local clubs using the space, plus gigs, a community market, a cinema night and more, things were starting to fall into place.

But as the pandemic struck, various events, clubs and classes, including concerts and a comedy night, were all cancelled and the building fell quiet.

Mr Vaccaro is now keen to get life back into the building.

One group which has found the space to be particularly useful in these times of social distancing, is Slimming World.

Geraldine Nelmes leads the Berkeley and Sharpness Slimming World group.

Prior to the pandemic, the group had met in school halls, but schools are not offering venue hire at the moment.

Geraldine said the UAC allows enough space for social distancing and for one way circulation for her members, and is affordable too.

“And it’s such a beautiful building, with a real sense of peace and calm,” she said.

With many people putting on weight during lockdown, Geraldine has found her sessions are increasing in popularity and so the extra space has been invaluable.

Also a keen supporter of the hall is professional Latin and ballroom dancer Jon Rodriguez, who runs the JR Dance Factory at the church hall, providing sessions which fuse exercise and dancing.

The space is available to those looking for a venue to run groups, classes or events, and is also being offered to those working from home and looking for a room to use for a quiet work space away from the family. Details via: facebook.com/urcsharpness/

Gazette Series Gloucestershire