It’s been nearly a year since we first opened the doors of the Ventnor Exchange and in that time we’ve showcased the work of artists from both near and far.
We’ve hosted exhibitions and theatre performances, stand up comedy and workshops, beer tastings and film screenings. We’ve launched a Young Creative scheme with more than 80 young people now taking part and we’ve led the way on the Island in commissioning new work for the stage. Who would have thought that an old Post Office in Ventnor could be used for all of this? Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make all of this possible, whether by volunteering, joining our friends scheme or attending events, you’ve all helped to create something unlike anywhere else on the Island.
Now, one year on, it seems a good time to reflect on our progress and to explore and re-evaluate where we are headed both as an organisation and as a collective of practitioners.
Many of the most innovative organisations that inspire us are always able to evolve and adapt to keep ahead of the curve, and in a fast changing world this seems more necessary now than ever.
So, looking forward, what can you expect?
First and foremost we want to spend more time developing and improving our events, creating more ambitious work and nurturing new talent. This will mean far more opportunities for training and masterclass sessions for local artists, a larger programme of events and more commissions of new work which we hope to begin taking beyond our walls to audiences right across the Island and beyond.
As our home at the Ventnor Exchange has only one main space, this will unfortunately mean reduced opening hours for our record store so that we are able to host the additional workshops and rehearsals needed to create a more ambitious programme of live events. However our bar will remain open from 5pm Tuesday – Friday every week (7pm on show nights) and every Saturday we will be hosting a new weekly vinyl market running from 10am – 11pm where as well as working your way through our records you can also bring along your favorite vinyl to play in store, and we’ll also be welcoming different guests along to spin their own tunes.
Our very successful Young Creative’s programme will be continuing and expanding to provide even more opportunities for young people aged 11 – 19 and we’re also introducing a new £5 ticket deal for under 25’s to our main shows.
Regular monthly gatherings like our spoken word night ‘Wightwords’ hosted by Chorderize will be joined by a monthly Beer Tasting and Creative’s Club, an opportunity for local artists and creative’s to network and meet like minded people.
On top of all of this, we’re busy planning next year’s Ventnor Fringe Festival, with applications to perform opening in December so be sure to keep an eye out for updates on this.
It’s a difficult time for arts organisations across the country and even more so for start ups in rural areas but together as a community we can show what is possible and develop something truly exciting here on the Isle of Wight. Here’s to year two at the Exchange!