Ventnor Exchange promises to revitalise Island arts scene

There will soon be a new permanent arts space from the team behind the Ventnor Fringe festival, promising to reinvent the Island’s creative scene.

The Ventnor Exchange, located in the town’s old post office, will open in mid-March with a record store open all day until late on Fridays and Saturdays, before a weekday studio theatre is ready in May.

Jack Whitewood, director of the Fringe and Exchange, said: “We want the Ventnor Exchange to be the creative hub of Ventnor and a magnet for those passionate about culture.

“We want to create a space that produces new work, commissions artists and forges collaborations and co-productions.”

The Exchange theatre will run a full programme of works by emerging artists from both visiting companies and associates of the team, encompassing different genres including puppetry and spoken word.

A monthly series called The Sunday School will also offer talks and debates on a huge range of topics from international politics to gardening, plus a bar, coffee shop and table tennis area will make it unlike any other Island shop.

Dom Kureen, 24, an emerging writer from Newport, said: “If it is a money making venture then I do not see much value in it, but if it is an outlet for struggling or prospective artists to spread awareness of their talent then that is a great step.”

Mr Whitewood views the project with greater urgency since the closure of the Isle of Wight’s only entertainment shop, HMV, on October 19.

He said: “We want to show there is still a demand for physical releases, but a record store needs to be a hub for those passionate about music. Shopping in the Exchange won’t be anything like shopping in HMV.”

The new record shop will focus on new releases and vinyl but will also sell second hand records and CDs alongside hosting in-store performances, signings and talks.

Katt Wilkie, 22, a media studies student from Godshill, said: “Our island is in desperate need of a decent, friendly record store, and doubling it up as a venue where musicians can meet and collaborate would make it an even better investment. This could really help the Island’s arts scene and community develop.”

Mr Whitewood said: “It’s a very exciting step for us and we really hope the Island will back us in creating this very unique space.”

Fine Lines at Ventnor Fringe 2013
Fine Lines at Ventnor Fringe 2013

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