The Bureau Centre for the Arts, Blackburn

Posted on the 13th September 2018


“The Bureau is great to unite families and the community in a safe space.”

The Bureau Centre for the Arts is a vibrant community arts centre in the heart of Blackburn. Our vision is ‘to create a space for arts and culture in order to provide accessible opportunities and build creative communities’. We do this by providing opportunities for all sections of the community to engage in high quality arts and cultural experiences, as well as building and supporting the existing creative community by providing opportunities, experience and networks.

We are in a unique position at The Bureau as we are able to offer a neutral, town centre space for communities from all different backgrounds in Blackburn and beyond to experience and explore the arts, to learn and create together, make connections and have inspiring, life-affirming experiences.

We are based in what was St. John’s Church, a stunning building built in 1789 and the oldest standing church in Blackburn, still containing many original features. The building has played an important role in the town’s history, originally as a church, then serving as the Citizens Advice Bureau before being left empty.

It now provides a versatile venue for art activities, theatre, music and cultural events, with a running programme of regular activities, plus exciting one-off events. There is gallery space and rooms to hire out for workshops, meetings, clubs and events, a bar that is open during events and we are working to develop a community cafe within the building.

“The Bureau is a lovely community space with a great atmosphere.”

At The Bureau we are committed to using this opportunity given to us to make a difference to our town. Through our projects and our partnerships we work to build confidence, self-esteem and ambition, whilst creating opportunities to improve social cohesion and people’s sense of pride in the town.

Over the past 12 months we have been focusing on developing our community cohesion projects by creating more opportunities for people to come together. Our FEAST events, funded by Near Neighbours, have enabled us to provide a space for people to come together to eat, meet neighbours and make new friends.

We are excited that, as a result of this experience, members of the refugee and asylum seekers project and our cafe volunteers are planning to fundraise to continue the events together.

“The Bureau brings people together and it is fun.”

We have also been working closely with fabulous community events like The Festival of Making and Blackburn Festival of Light, projects have been hugely successful in bringing the people of Blackburn together to have positive shared experiences, and in turn, weave people, communities and their stories together.

As a grassroots organisation run on a shoestring budget, and mainly relying on a core of committed volunteers, we feel that we have achieved a lot in the 3 years we have been open. This year we have had 7275 active participants and 6470 audience members at over 226 regular and one-off events. We feel that this is something to be really proud of and the positive feedback we receive about the work we are doing is heart-warming.

“The Bureau has helped me a lot with my confidence. It gave me a platform to practice my customer service skills whilst I volunteered at the cafe. I also enjoy taking part in the activities and fun days that are held at The Bureau. I enjoy meeting and working with different people, and taking part in creative projects. The Bureau is the best place to do that.”

The centre is supported by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. We are part of the Children’s University scheme, work with NCS groups, National Youth Theatre and are able to offer Arts Awards at Discover and Explore levels. The Bureau is also involved in both national and international projects such as Fun Palaces, Papergirl, Heritage Open Days and The British Science Festival.

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