Saturday, 2 February 2013

Bob Harris and Sir Richard Branson back a new arts centre for South Devon - Press Release from David Parsley at Totnes FM

Bob Harris

Sir Richard Branson


Sir Richard Branson and radio legend Bob Harris back new arts venue for south Devon

One of the world’s biggest names in business and a broadcasting legend have given their backing to plans for a new arts centre in south Devon, which will see an old industrial space transformed into a spectacular entertainment and exhibition venue.

Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, has given his support to the project, which aims to open in May, with space for live music, theatre, art exhibitions, a community radio station, as well as activities for young children including Saturday morning cinema and kids’ discos. The project will also create 11 new jobs upon opening, with more planned in the coming months.

Sir Richard said: "I am delighted to support the efforts of the South Devon Arts Centre. There's so much talent out there and I am sure David and the team will be a great support to artists and create a fabulous creative space for the local community. It's great to be a friend of such a worthwhile project."

Sir Richard’s multi-billion pound empire includes airlines, trains, health clubs and the annual V Music Festival. He also founded Virgin Records is 1972. The label grew to be a worldwide music phenomenon, with platinum performers such as Roy Orbison, Culture Club, Simple Minds, Lenny Kravitz and Mike Oldfield. The company was sold to EMI in 1992, but Sir Richard has recently shown an interest in returning to the record industry after trying to buy the label back last year.

The arts centre has also gained the backing of one of the nation’s best-loved broadcasters, Bob Harris OBE.

Described by Radio Times as “one of the greats of British contemporary music broadcasting” and “an
independent champion of great music”, Mr Harris has been at the centre of the British music industry for more than forty years. In 2011 he was rewarded with an OBE in the Queens Honours list for his “services
to music broadcasting”.

Few people have broken as many bands into the mainstream consciousness as Bob Harris through his work on Radio 1, the legendary Old Grey Whistle Test, TV shows and his current programmes on Radio 2. His shows have become the Holy Grail for acts worldwide.

"It feels great to be a Patron of a group that is so supportive of new and live music,” said Mr Harris. “The team behind the South Devon Arts Centre has already shown its commitment to young musicians, and with the new project I know they will be supporting even more artists. Importantly, they will also be providing the local community with some fabulous entertainment. I can't wait to see it. I vigorously support new artists on my Radio 2 programmes, and I’m sure I’ll be able to suggest a few names from the incredible wealth of young talent we have here in Britain.”

David Parsley, chairman of the project said: “We have been blown away by the support we’ve been given for this fantastic scheme. To have Sir Richard on board is incredible. It’s amazing that he’s willing to support us.

“As for ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, he’s a living legend in broadcasting and the biggest supporter of new music in the country. Quite honestly, we could not have hoped for two better supporters.”

Sir Richard and Mr Harris join the project’s existing supporters and Patrons playwright Peter Oswald, poet Alice Oswald and local musician Mae Karthauser.

A planning application to transform an empty industrial unit on the Totnes Trading Estate into a modern and exciting community arts centre was submitted to South Hams District Council in at the beginning of the

“We believe the centre will become a space Totnes and south Devon can be proud of,” said Mr Parsley. “We’ve got great supporters, and we will create just great entertainment to both young and old, but we’re also going to be providing some much needed jobs to local people. We’re looking for event staff, and people who want to be trained in all kinds of roles such as sound engineering, radio production, and stage management. This is going to be the most exciting venue for the arts in the region and we can’t wait to welcome our supporters and Patrons to the opening night.”

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