‘Make room for the arts in Brackley’ says former dance instructor

Ann Steedman
Ann Steedman
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A Brackley-based former dance teacher and performer has called for a suitable arts or theatre venue for the town, but the idea of using the town’s Old Fire Station has been ruled out.

Ann Steedman, a Life Member of The Royal Academy of Dance, originally moved to Brackley with her parents during the Second World War and attended school in the town before leaving to train in the arts in 1948. She became the first girl in Northants to receive a county grant to train in ballet and theatre arts.

Ms Steedman believes opportunities are few and far between for young aspiring artists, actors, performers and dancers, and having a facility such as a theatre would benefit the community.

She said: “Brackley is a fast expanding area and there are lots of plans for new houses, a hotel, a garage, supermarket and parking facilities. This is fine, but there’s nothing to do with the arts and theatre.”

Ms Steedman returned to Brackley in 1967 after passing her Advanced Teacher’s Examination.

She opened a dance school in Warwick and was involved in choreographing productions for Brackley Magdalen College School, such as West Side Story and Grease.

At the same time, she taught at Winchester House School in Brackley for 13 years and at Stowe School for three years.

She added: “Having a proper theatre, run by someone who knows how to do that successfully, would attract touring companies too. It could be used for so many things, such as showing films, but also as an exhibition space for artists and photographers. The arts really have so much to give.”

Town councillor Chris­topher Blunden, chairman of the fire station development sub commitee, said using the Old Fire Station as a theatre had been considered in the past, but it wasn’t a viable option.

He said: “We looked at using the fire station for this, but it just isn’t suitable. It’s an old building and walls can’t be knocked down to make changes.”

He added the new Radstone Fields development would include a new community centre.

“The plans are being redesigned at the moment, but the centre will be a large space with a capacity of 200, built to suit the arts, and will be complete with kitchen facilities, and meeting and changing rooms,” he said.