AN afternoon celebrating creativity in the Forest was held to herald the start of work on transforming an iconic Cinderford church building into a centre for the arts.

The event on Saturday (May 7) marked the acquisition of the former Methodist Church by Cinderford Town Council as part of a wider transformation of the town under the successful Forest bid to the government’s Levelling Up fund.

The church has been renamed The Wesley in honour of the way people in the town have referred to it for generations.

The showcase was organised by Forest arts group Canopy as part of its ArtsJab programme.

It included displays by local groups such as Cinderford Band, Drybrook Male Voice and Cinderford Artspace and Engage Circus, Forest of Dean Wind Band and the Savoy Youth Theatre from Monmouth.

A performer from Engage Circus reached new heights (Tindle)

Also on display was work by pupils from Forest View Primary School and Forest High School in Cinderford and by members of the Forest of Dean Camera Club.

There were also opportunities for the many visitors to try something new such as print-making, working with clay and textiles, circus skills, singing and painting.

The event started with a parade of colorful banners up Belle Vue Road from outside the church which did a circuit via the town centre.

The showcase was then opened by Mayor of Cinderford, Cllr Roger Sterry.

Male voice choir Wesley
Drybrook Male Voice Choir hit all the right notes (Tindle)

He said: “Cinderford Town Council has been able to purchase this beautiful building to give the people of the Forest of Dean a fabulous community resource for the arts.

“This afternoon is about bringing communities together through the arts to give pleasure, enjoyment and fun.”

He also thanked local businesses who generously gave raffle prizes for the event which was free to the public.

Work is on-going to transform the church into an arts centre with plans being drawn up for the interior and tenders out to supply solar panels for the roof of the building.

Planning permission and consent to alter the Grade II listed building will also be sought from the Forest Council.