Future of historic Wakefield building in doubt

The Orangery in Wakefield
The Orangery in Wakefield
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THE FUTURE of Wakefield’s Grade-II Orangery is in doubt after the arts organisation based there announced it will leave the building in April.

THE FUTURE of Wakefield’s Grade-II Orangery is in doubt after the arts organisation based there announced it will leave the building in April.

The Orangery, which is located next to Westgate Station, was built in the 1750s and has a rich history as a former town house, church, school, and even a zoological garden complete with dancing bear.

But high running costs have forced arts charity Beam to announce it will cease running events at site, which is owned by Wakefield Council, in Easter, and will leave when its lease runs out in Spring next year.

Existing bookings at the site, which is home to major artworks by Richard Woods and other international and local artists, will be honoured.

Beam’s director, Robert Powell, said it was with “great reluctance” that it had decided to close it as a venue.

“Hopefully this is temporary, but Beam just can’t carry the running and management costs on its own,” he said.

“Thousands of people have enjoyed The Orangery. It’s a unique part of the city’s creative life and it’s a shame to see it closed as a cultural venue given the city’s growing reputation as a centre for the arts.”

Beam’s work will continue, and it has recently been offered almost £90,000 from the Arts Council for a new programme called ‘Arts in Place’ and to take Wakefield Lit Fest to other parts of the District over the next two years.

Mr Powell said the charity is in talks with the Council and is “hopeful that a long-term solution can be found.”

“In the meantime we’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has ideas about how The Orangery might be kept open,” he added.

Andy Wallhead, Wakefield Council’s corporate director, regeneration and economic growth said: “Wakefield Council remains supportive of Beam and we will continue to work with them through this difficult time.”