Several years ago, in the rural City of Ripon, an 80 year old charity, Ripon Operatic Society acquired its own building and has been working hard transforming it into a Community Arts, Health and Wellbeing Hub for the whole community ever since.
Although the space is currently usable for events and performances, in order to bring all arts, physical activities and wellbeing to the entire community and beyond, we now need to make this space completely Accessible, Versatile, Creative and Active and we set out details each stage bellow.
Once completed the space will serve the entire community, including those with mobility issues and additional needs, not only with art events, but also groups wanting to get more active and improve their health and wellbeing.
There are separate stages to our project. We need to make the space:
The space was acquired with no disabled access into the main space. A wheelchair lift will be fitted as well as other improvements to access, such as accessible toilets and changing spaces, in order to ensure everyone can enjoy performances, events and get active in this incredible space.
We are very aware that a proportion of the community have not been able to attend events held so far. This is regrettable, and having to tell members of the community that we cannot accommodate them defeats our purpose which is to serve our local community.
It’s also really important that the space can be accessible to performers, activity leaders and artists who may require assistance. Our aim is for this space to be used by everyone.
The space will also be used for groups taking part in sports and active classes and we have several groups interested in holding fitness classes, for example, but who would currently struggle with current access and we highlight some case studies below.
Safeguarding Regulations require a safe and secure changing area for children participating in activities. Although we have a good sized area connected to the main space, we need to customize this so more youth groups can perform a better variety of productions, and for activities where a change is required.
Any productions and active activities so far involving children have been met with challenges meaning they have not been able to use it to its full potential. Changes to the backstage area will be a huge benefit to any groups using this space.
So far, the space has been able to host arts events from musical theatre to comedy nights, dance classes to band nights and competitions, but the Community deserves more.
We want to bring all art media to our Community Arts Hub and that means some further adjustments and work such as creating a gallery space. We already have local artists and photographers wanting to showcase their work here and we can’t wait to welcome them.
We are aiming to get the local community to use this space for active use, such as fitness classes, yoga and indoor sports. The large space lends itself well to such groups and we have already hosted some Keep Fit classes within the venue. However, we are facing some challenges, particularly with access as outlined above, and need to make this the space fully usable for activities that will improve the health and wellbeing of ALL members of the community.
Keen to include sporting activities within our future plans, we have been speaking with local Instructors and organisations who would use this space for sports and active reasons.
Ripon Community Links
provides a varied weekly timetable of activities and sessions to their users tailored for each one. Physical activity is an important part of this for some users and the organisation has stated that a City Centre space, with access for their less abled users, would be a great benefit to Ripon and their organisation.
established her company FIIT Like a Girl
nearly three years ago.
Her business targets young girls and adults with disabilities who are inactive, and encourages them become healthier and happier through physical exercise classes and wellbeing. Her mission is to get girls not only enjoying exercise but to build confidence while doing so. She creates classes that girls feel able to join in and tackles issues while doing so. In her words "Our girls can achieve anything, they just need the self confidence to believe it".
Vicky has run her classes in Ripon before but to date, has not been able to find a space in the City that is fully accessible for her clients with additional needs and large enough to be able to accommodate what she does. Once the work has been done, we would love to welcome Vicky's fantastic classes into our building.
"As a fitness professional, often working with clients with a range of disabilities, venue choice is paramount and not easily found. I need to ensure that my clients are able to access the building safely, and that the appropriate toilet and changing facilities are available. Many buildings, despite claiming to be accessible, are not. My clients may be able to enter the building but if they are unable to access suitable changing facilities then it is no good.
Many clients require additional support so space is also important. One client may have 1:1/2:1 support and many can then become overwhelmed with too many people crowded in the space. What Ripon Community Arts Hub is doing is going to be vitally important for the community and for activities such as mine."
Jude Humphrey is an experienced fitness instructor in Ripon who, for the last ten years has specialised in adults with physical and learning disabilities. Jude has already held classes and events in the space for her clients, but has expressed the importance of better accessibility.
"For the last 10 years I have been working as a fitness instructor in Ripon, teaching vulnerable adults with learning disabilities. Throughout lockdown I have continued to provide this service which has been so beneficial not only from the obvious physical perspective to the individuals concerned but also to support their continued mental health.
Going forwards, finding an affordable, fully accessible space in which to hold these classes in Ripon is going to be tough for me. The prospect of being able to use Ripon’s new Community Arts Hub would be fantastic. It would allow me to extend my classes to vulnerable adults who need a wheel chair accessible space....something I’ve so far not been able to offer.
What an exciting new prospect for ALL people in the local Ripon community and surrounding areas!"
Please help us in our journey to create an Accessible, Versatile, Creative and Active Community Arts Hub for the whole Community and beyond.