Bury St Edmunds Milkmaid organisation secures future of arts group

Milkmaid has adopted Artheads. Members of Milkmaid are pictured celebrating in December 2015 after securing a 35-year lease for its arts centre at the back of Bury St Edmunds Railway Station.
Milkmaid has adopted Artheads. Members of Milkmaid are pictured celebrating in December 2015 after securing a 35-year lease for its arts centre at the back of Bury St Edmunds Railway Station.
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A Bury St Edmunds folk arts organisation has secured the future of a group which supports people with addiction and mental health issues.

The Milkmaid Community Interest Company (CIC) has adopted Artheads, which was facing financial difficulties.

Milkmaid provides folk arts activities for the vulnerable, disadvantaged and those with learning difficulties and mental health issues.

Terry Walden, managing director of Milkmaid CIC, said: “This is a great move as it allows us to expand our support for people with mental health issues.

“Artheads was struggling financially so we were particularly pleased to be able to step in to avoid possible closure, as this was far too important a group to let go.

“We believe the change in the management set up will help bring stability and a new energy to everyone involved.”

Artheads, based in the basement of Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, provides art, music and creative activities for people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse as well as those with mental health issues.

The group, which will be known as Milkmaid Artheads, has about 40 members.

Mr Walden said Milkmaid will take over the lease of the basement and aim to make greater use of the space with more activities such as creative writing, song writing, drama and different music.

Although there will be ‘no major changes creatively or artistically’, the Artheads and Milkmaid Mindset music groups will merge.

Artheads currently runs sessions on a Saturday, which will continue until a full programme is established.

Mr Walden said: “Eventually we hope to have this place buzzing seven days a week.”

They will also look at raising funds to hire tutors for the activities.

Milkmaid CIC plans to open an arts centre at the back of Bury St Edmunds Railway Station, off Fornham Road.

The first phase of the project, which includes a studio room, refreshment area, reception/office and toilets, will cost more than £160,000.

They already have £70,000 pledged and have applied for grants to cover the rest.

Mr Walden also hopes to secure support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an arts project about the history of the railway station, which would involve Artheads members.

He is looking to hear from former workers at the station who may be able to help with details about its history.

Email milkmaidterry@yahoo.co.uk and for more details about the organisation visit www.milkmaidcentre.com