Arts and Local Government Leaders Meeting Today

Rhonda Merrick, Founder and Creative Director of Kent Arts Television Film Music (KATFM), will deliver a speech and guide the Mayor of Ashford, several Councillors and other invited guests and Kent officials on a brief tour of Ashford Arts Centre this afternoon, as local leaders assemble to learn more about what may be the ideal business model for the future of arts groups in the wake of Sir Peter Bazalgette’s speech earlier this week in which he revealed local councils will have their Arts funding cut in half over the next four years.

Tune in and listen as to the speech as Merrick celebrates the centres first year in the property in Ashford town centre, just off the High Street. The speech will be broadcast live, but there will be no live images of the visitors in the room. Instead, online visitors will see a pre-recorded presentation as they listen to the discussion and tour.

Click here to listen to Sir Peter Bazalgette’s speech in its entirety.  The event was hosted by the Arts Council England and the New Local Government Network.

Ashford Arts Centre has evolved from start-up to growth. and expresses gratitude to the proactive help the project received for Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council as it moves from start-up to growth.

Local government and the arts: the future

Local government leaders are coming to visit Ashford Arts Centre this week. They're coming to see what we've achieved and what needs to be done. We have also approached corporations engaged in inward investment in Ashford with a view to sponsorships and partnerships so the Arts and Culture community will continue to thrive in the town centre alongside exciting new commercial ventures.

Local government and the future of Arts and Culture

The Arts Council England and a group of local councils and large businesses, called The New Local Government, will be streaming a speech by Sir Peter Bazalgette about local authority support for art and culture on Wednesday the 13th of April from 10:30AM.  If you’re interested, this is the link to watch the speech delivered live.

We are particularly interested in this speech as the only practical support and financial support KATFM has received to date has been from local government leaders. The Arts Council is a fantastic national programme for the Arts, but it seems too big and too far away for a tiny not-for-profit group like ours to reach. Nothing compares to the ability to pop round for a cup of tea and a chat about how our local leaders can help our Arts project survive and grow.


It’s with pride and great joy that we can look back and say this was an idea that a group of working musicians, dancers, film makers, writers and other creatives started with zero funding and managed to hang on to our first anniversary in the Ashford Arts Centre. How odd then, to come across an article about local government and its future role in supporting Arts and Culture, when several elected officials will be coming this week to tour our centre, watch a brief movie made in-house about the evolution of the project and have an informal discussion, over tea and coffee, about how Ashford Borough and Kent County Council  AND the Mayor, may be able to help us continue to grow from strength to strength, but this time, with proactive support from local government.

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After reading about the inward investment of the Big 8 companies in Ashford, I saw an opportunity to bring business and local government together in order to make Ashford town centre a more attractive place for families to visit. We have already outgrown our little centre and I hope to move into the Ashford People’s Theatre, similar to the one in Camden. There are a few possible sites for this to happen.

We don’t need anything fancy, just a village hall in the town centre.

After celebrating how far we’ve come with so little, we’ll share our vision for the future here in Ashford town centre. Ashford is Fantastic!

Be sure to tweet your thoughts on the speech. If you’re working in the Arts, this should concern you, because it concerns you.




Noise Control at Ashford Arts Centre

Soundproofing is happening at Ashford Arts Centre as organisers slog through preparations for the 2nd annual Ashford Fringe Festival.  Cinqueport Building Contractors are installing acoustic treatments and new walls to separate the tiny theatre from the recording studio. This is made possible by  small grants authorised by Cllr Derek Smythe at Kent County Council and Cllr Graham Galpin at Ashford Borough Council.


The original wall stopped at the drop ceiling height, this allowed sound to travel freely between the two studios. The new acoustic boards are being attached to the existing wall, but the height extends all the way to the concrete ceiling. Acoustic insulation will then be installed and an additional set of acoustic boards will be installed. There will also be soundproofing insulation in the ceiling and the theatre will have new acoustic tiles rather than the normal ones in the drop ceiling at the moment. The grants also made it possible for electrical work to take place and the entrance to the tiny theatre has been repainted by Nigel of Trend Decorating and Maintenance.

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The centre is thriving through the careful and determined stewardship of its resident artists. Ashford Arts Centre is an exciting new artist-led project and Ashford Fringe Festival is set to be a 9 day celebration of all the Creative and Performing Arts.

PRS and PPL To Speak At Ashford Fringe Festival

Ever wonder how royalties are paid for your music? If you write your own songs and play them at your gigs or record music, you need to come to a FREE event On Thursday the 2nd of June when representatives from PPL and PRS in London gather at Ashford Arts Centre to meet, listen and talk with Kent musicians.

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Seating is limited, to reserve your place you need to register. There will be a jam-session which is being filmed and recorded. After invited musicians have performed a song, the panel will discuss how that band or singer/songwriter might earn a better living as a musician with a bit of tweaking. Simple things such as reporting your gigs to PRS, to pitching your music properly to radio stations to understanding how royalties are paid for radio play to how KATFM can help you get access to small quantities of professional looking CD’s whenever you need them. You can come along on the night, but it would help with refreshments if we know you’re coming! If we get loads and loads of bookings, we might need to move the event out of the tiny theatre. So… Please send a quick message to

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Sound recordings are not just for musicians, comics need them too! Be sure to get yourself to Comedy Night during Ashford Fringe Festival and for the warm-up on March 18th with Dave Bailey headlining. Dave is supported by:

Janet Garner
Ravi Holy
Si Deaves
Jack Lock
Delboy Maliki

Comedy Night is hosted by Matt Hoss, PhD of Comedy student

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There will be music people, radio people and all sorts of people at Ashford Arts Centre on Thursday the 2nd of June. Make sure you get yourself there that night if you are or want to be a musician.

Ashford Arts Centre

Ashford Arts Centre is located just off the High Street, down Taylor’s passage, between Tesco and the George Hotel. Our building faces Wilco, a multi-storey carpark and a very busy taxi rank. We’re 5 minutes walk from Ashford International train station.


Ashford Arts Centre Music Club

Ashford Arts Centre Music Club is now holding rehearsals on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 for anyone over 18 who is interested in singing rock/soul/jazzy/pop songs at our festivals, concerts and other events. Many of our singers are accomplished actors and/or instrumentalists looking to use their vocal instruments a bit more.  Membership in the Music Club is included in your subscription to Ashford Arts Centre.



Get On The Musician and DEP List

Ashford Arts Centre is gearing up for its first solo event... The Ashford Fringe Festival! You can be part of the excitement... the music, the original films, the stand up comedy, the glamour the glitter, the food!!! The wonderful happy people. If you're a musician, please get yourself on our list to play our venues and/or festivals sometimes... to know about opportunities to dep for bands and singers that need a helping hand. To know about our jam sessions and film sessions, our pilot tv shows and movies that YOU might be part of someday. Oh, the excitement.

Just get yourself on the list. We’ll get more details like the instrument(s) you play etc… on your profile page. Rock and Roll.

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Prog Rock Choir and Acting Up!

Ever wanted to sing those tight harmonies of the BeeGees or Queen? Come join us on Sunday afternoons and you just might! Some of our members are working musicians, looking to improve their singing styles. Some are singers interested in harmonising with other voices and performing with a fantastic group of musicians and actors. Oh yes! The actors will be Acting UP! on our webcasts, podcasts, movies, tv pilots, concerts, stage shows and festivals.

arethaThe Sunday group is over 18’s only, but we will be working with student groups over half-term break.

Come jam with us Sunday’s at 3:00pm. Actors will sometimes require extra time to rehearse.

Membership in the Performance Arts Group is £20 per month and that includes membership in any and all clubs and events run by the centre.

Subscribe now if you haven’t already!  Be sure to REGISTER with us too.

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We Own and Manage Ashford Arts Centre and Ashford Fringe Festival