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Thursday, 04 June 2015

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Performing arts hub planned for Workington

Moorclose in Workington could soon be on the map as a hub for dance and performing arts.

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LET’S DANCE: From left, community centre manager Gillian Thompson, community centre director Mike McDonald, dance teachers Catherine Robinson and Melanie Preston, and Maria Pattinson

Maria Pattinson, owner of the Maria Frances School of Dance, which has sessions at Cockermouth’s Scout hut, will open the Studio 9 Dance and Fitness Centre at the former sixth form building in Needham Drive.

It will teach around 100 students a variety of dance, from ballet to street dance, Zumba, pilates and performing arts. It is due to open in September and will create five jobs.

It is one of a variety of organisations that the board for Moorclose Community Centre hopes to bring to the site, after it was given a three-year licence by Cumbria County Council to run the sports hall, theatre and art block.

Mrs Pattinson, who grew up in Workington, said: “The community could be losing a lot of facilities if the leisure centre is moved.

“I want to provide people living in Moorclose and the wider community with something they can use and be proud of.”

The first phase of refurbishment on the ground floor will cost £15,000, funded through grants and donations. A former art department will be transformed into a dance studio, changing rooms and dance wear shop. A lecture theatre will be painted and disabled access put in.

The second phase will include transformation of a classroom into a dance studio.

Mrs Pattinson said: “My goal is to make the studio a centre of excellence and a place to study degrees and diplomas. It could be the most sought-after place for people to further their careers in dance, singing and performance.”

Moorclose Community Centre, which opened in 1993, holds workshops and meetings and has an IT suite.

Gillian Thompson, centre manager, said: “This is just the start of our exciting venture and we’re delighted to welcome Maria on board.”

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