450-year-old church to be revamped

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A 450-year-old Stoke Newington church will be the first religious building in Hackney to house an arts centre.

Members oOld church exteriorview2f the St Mary Arts Centre for the Community (SMART) are raising funds to turn St Mary’s Old Church into a space for locals to hone their musical and artistic creativity.

Head of SMART, Andrew Hudson, said: “There’s not a centre of this sort here. It’s a smashing building and we want to make better use of. From teenagers putting on their first gigs to established professionals, internationally known dance companies, and local photography groups, we look forward to meeting them all,” he said.

The team hope to launch the opening of the centre with a festival in October, to “reflect the broad range of art interests in the Stoke Newington community.”

Hudson said: “The church will continue to be used for worship but we want to welcome the whole community, not just people linked with the Church of England. Hearing from different groups will be integral to community outreach”.

The plan is additionally part of a conservation project with Stoke Newington School, Hackney Youth Services and Common Air Theatre. The renovation will  provide new heating, kitchen and toilet facilities and roofing repairments.

Organisers have raised money from various grants and foundations, but still need another £25,000 for renovations.

Further information can be found at www.smartn16.org