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Frome - Sarah Ford traces the growth of the arts in one of Somerset's largest towns

PUBLISHED: 12:42 04 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:14 20 February 2013

Frome - Sarah Ford traces the growth of the arts in one of Somerset's largest towns

Frome - Sarah Ford traces the growth of the arts in one of Somerset's largest towns

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the transformation of a disused pub into an arts centre in the market town of Frome. Those taking part in the exciting rebuild included unemployed young people who gained valuable skills in the process.



This month marks the 25th anniversary of the transformation of a disused pub into an arts centre in the market town of Frome. Those taking part in the exciting rebuild included unemployed young people who gained valuable skills in the process. Today the Black Swan Arts, with its galleries, shops, caf, and workshops held in its distinctive Roundtower could be seen to epitomise the process of revitalisation that Frome has undergone in recent years to become a hive of artistic activity.


The fourth largest town in Somerset is well known for its annual Frome Festival, but the arts scene is not just restricted to ten days in the summer. The town boasts two theatres, a number of musical groups, an annual carnival and various venues hosting an array of events throughout the year.


"I would describe Frome as a regional arts capital," says Damon Moore, who runs Silk Mill Studios with wife Kate and son Dickon.


"The arts have grown in Frome since the mid 1990s. Artists, attracted by the architecture and lower house prices, brought in other artists and now there is an amazing amount of talent to be found here in Frome."


Providing space for working artists as well as staging a range of arts-related events, Silk Mill Studios operates from a preserved former textile mill.


Frome prospered as a result of the local cloth trade and this resulted in much of the impressive architecture we can still see today. The town has the highest number of Listed buildings in the Mendip area of Somerset and one which has been rescued for the community is the Grade I Listed 300-year-old Rook Lane Chapel, which stages exhibitions, concerts, civil ceremonies and events.The former chapel has been renovated and sits happily next to its three storey contemporary extension.Arts co-ordinator Annie Ridout says Frome feels unlike anywhere else and she enjoys the buzz around town during the annual ten-day Frome Festival in July.



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