Harpenden Concert Band
Founded barely four years ago with only 12 to 15 members, the band now had about 40 enthusiastic players, said Alison Fox. It put on three major performances a year, in May, September and at Christmas, with attendance proceeds going to charity; some £500 was raised at the last concert. Emphasis was placed on encouraging young people to join, adding that the band nevertheless pursued a ‘challenging repertoire’. She said prime requirements for any venue where the band performed included a suitably open space and an adequate sound system, in combination with good acoustics.
Harpenden Choral Society
Four concerts a year, including a Yuletide Carol Concert, were given by what was emphatically an amateur choir, said Alan Jackson, albeit one with a membership approaching a hundred. The society currently used the High Street Methodist hall for its smaller events. But more ambitious productions, such as the recently staged Elijah, demanded larger venues, able to accommodate the full choir, together with say a 40-piece orchestra, in front of an audience of perhaps 350. The proposed cultural hub theatre promised such a requirement, although the question of cost loomed large. He made a plea for the matter of acoustics to be addressed by the architectural planners at an early stage.
Magic Voices Music Choir
There were typically about 45 singers at Magic Voices rehearsals and subsequent performances, said Liz Burnett. The group had no particular cultural pretensions, tending to favour popular West End Show material which maximised the enjoyment and enthusiasm of its members and those who listened to them, for example at the town’s Christmas Carnival. She said the choir had ambitious plans for the future, for which a large venue as envisaged for the new hub - but with good acoustics - would be needed.
Herts Visual Arts
Hillary Taylor, an artist herself, said her county-wide group was dedicated to maintaining the cultural heritage of the arts. It was essential, she said, that the proposed hub incorporated a ‘community space’ which would do justice to events such as art exhibitions, while reinforcing the requirement for smaller workshop spaces, not necessarily aimed at an audience. She championed the cause of ‘inter-active arts events’ citing the inclusion of an art display at a recent local history society exhibition.
Harpenden Local History Society
Gavin Ross said the society, established in 1973, held monthly evening meetings for its 200 or so members in the Small Public Hall, addressed by notable guest speakers, as well as quarterly exhibitions in Park Hall featuring historic photographs and other archive material, focussed on particular subjects or areas of the town. The great ‘dream’ of the local history society was the establishment of a Harpenden Museum; and the cultural hub proposals appeared to offer its possible realisation. A regularly-refreshed local history display area in the new hub had been mooted. But there was an important additional need for archive space to replace the inadequate cramped accommodation of the small room at Park Hall made available in recent years by the Town Council. That limited space had currently to be augmented with ad hoc storage in members’ lofts and garages.
Joyce Bunting explained that the group, created in 1997, effectively grew out of Workers’ Educational Association creative writing courses, appealing in particular to those aspiring to have their work published. At its monthly meetings, usually held in the Quaker Meeting House, members read their work aloud for others to comment upon, or enjoyed talks by a guest author, poet or tutor. She said the proposed Arts Hub could provide an opportunity for members to liaise productively with other creative groups.