Project information

Bringing the Arts to a Rural Community

The refurbished Corn Hall in Diss is a splendid community arts centre fit for 21st century. Help us involve a new and diverse audience with the arts -
from young families and young people to the elderly and disabled - through our imaginative programme of events and activities.

January 2018 - December 2018

Charity information: The Diss Corn Hall Trust

The Diss Corn Hall Trust logo
  • Need


    Rural communities often have limited access to the arts, but over the past six years the Corn Hall has become a focus for the arts in South Norfolk. Now we want to reach out and widen our audiences to give more people the chance to participate in and benefit from the arts in the widest sense - particularly groups that are harder to reach and often isolated - young families, young people and the elderly and disabled.


    in the last few years, our volunteers have developed a limited but successful programme for young people though our monthly Saturday Club and prize winning Arts Award programme (for 12 - 18 year olds). Our refurbishment has given us better facilities and studio spaces. By securing the funding for two dedicated outreach staff for two years we can expand this work, reaching out to other groups through targeted performances and exhibitions, with tailored activities, workshops and other events

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Develop the Arts Award Scheme to 5 cohorts by end 2019


    » Recruit and train 10 more volunteers to assist staff with the Arts Council recognised programme
    » Set up the necessary structure for 5 tiers of the Arts Award programme - from Explore for age 7+ to Gold for age 16+, recruiting 50 participants
    » Agree project activities with groups or individuals according to Award level
    » Work with young people to develop and deliver their projects through to moderation and award.

    The number of students enrolled, the number who progress from one stage to another and their award success rate; their feedback on how the project has helped them in their lives

    Aim 2

    'Wind Back Time' - a community promenade theatre piece about the history and life of a market town


    » Commission a script from professional writer with input from community workshops (already Arts Council funded)
    » Develop public workshop performance for Spring 2018
    » Public street performance in late 2018 which then tours locally
    » Participants film the event for playing at 'Village Screens'

    The successful delivery of the various stages of the project and the feedback from the participants and the wider community.

    Aim 3

    Exhibitions for and curated by the community - 2018


    » Exhibition of childrens writer and illustrator, Korky Paul, including a days storytelling and drawing workshop with him
    » Brush with the Past - an exhibition of the local brushmaking industry researched, devised and staged by local schools
    » Local artists display and sell their work through an Affordable Art Show
    » Monthly exhibitions in our smaller gallery by local artists or groups e.g in 2017 Society of Spinners and Weavers , Cycle Club, Partners in Care etc

    The participants feel proud to have delivered displays to a high standard, which have aroused public attraction and interest.

    Aim 4

    Expand programme for young families


    » Our monthly Saturday Club with live professional acts and arts activities engaging 50 families + regularly
    » Young people from the Arts Award teams are involved with organising the Saturday Clubs
    » Through our daytime screenings for young families - Big Scream, Films for Toddlers and Family Flicks develop a regular audience of 30+
    » Participants help with organising and start to 'own' the screening programme

    Regular but informal surveys to find the level of satisfaction of both audience and volunteers, the overall audience numbers and the number of repeat 'visits'

    Aim 5

    Develop daytime activities programme for the elderly and disabled


    » 2018 target - two creative workshops/ classes a week with 10 participants each
    » Participants to help organise and 'own' monthly Silver Screen films - target audience 30
    » Provide minibus service for residents of two local care homes to overcome transport problems

    Rather as the young families but this is more about improving the participant's social life and well-being. Difficult to measure but we learn a lot by talking to people.

  • Impact


    The Corn Hall project is part of a larger town scheme of social and economic regeneration. We worked with a professional researcher to carry out a 'community health survey' earlier this year to measure a baseline for the town's well-being. . Separate surveys were devised for the local High School pupils and for the public (1200 replies overall). The survey will be repeated again in two years to see what effect the project has had.


    The Corn Hall reopened after its £2 million refurbishment in May 2017 and initial results suggest it can cover its core operating costs. The non-earning outreach programme is at financial risk. We have 50% funding from the HLF until 2019, but need to fundraise to fill the gap until we can fund internally in 2020. The recruitment of good staff is a problem in a rural area, so we are very flexible in our working conditions.


    We produce formal monitoring reports to funding bodies. We reach individual and business donors through newsletters and informal meetings with staff and trustees (and parties).

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £41,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £27,000 Staff 2 Outreach staff
      £4,000 Performer fees 10 Saturday Clubs
      £3,500 Film Licenses 4 films per month for 10 months
      £4,000 Tutor fees 40 half days
      £2,500 Marketing Share of brochure etc costs

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    HLF £15,000 Guaranteed
    Event income £6,000 Conditional
  • Background


    Diss is a small market town in South Norfolk with a population of 7,000 but a catchment area of approx 70,000. The historic centre is very attractive although it has declined with changes in shopping patters. The level of deprivation is generally higher than the national and regional averages, as is the age of residents. Local job opportunities are limited and educational qualifications low. Access to arts amenities is limited without a car, as public transport is poor.


    The aim of the overall regeneration project is to benefit residents and businesses of the town -
    with the Corn Hall as a key catalyst We hope that with economic regeneration, more jobs will be created, and as the town becomes a more attractive place to live & work, new industry will move in and find a better trained workforce. For the project outlined above, while there should be an overall benefit, it is chiefly aimed at those harder to reach groups identified.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Formed in 2009, the Corn Hall has a good track record, not just for its imaginative and entertaining programme, but for the welcoming approach of staff and volunteers. We have expanded our already experienced and effective workforce to take on this additional outreach role and with no comparable arts venue within a 17 mile radius, we are well placed to deliver this project. Our visitors numbers in 2014, our last full full year of operation, were 27,000. We hope to welcome over 40,000 in 2019.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Angela Sykes

    Director who has created the ethos of the venture, always aiming to reach out to as wide an audience as possible, while maintaining high standards

    Jess Wythe

    Deputy director who has worked tirelessly and has developed a highly cost effective and successful marketing strategy.

    Sue Best

    Trustee volunteer who started our Arts Award and events for young families. She has great experience working with disadvantaged children.

    Jessica Johnston

    Arts and Heritage manager who has devised our new and expanded outreach programme and in a short time has made a significant impact.