Heritage honoured at Sleaford’s artistic hub

Date Published: 07 May 2021

Sleaford’s historic arts hub is re-opening following its £1.2m re-modelling with a name that celebrates its distinct heritage.

When it opens its doors again on Monday May 17 following the year-long programme to extend the café, re-order the gallery space, create new accessible dance and workshop space and re-focus its community provision, the National Centre for Craft & Design will again be known as The Hub.

Reflecting on its origins as Hubbard and Phillips’ seed warehouse and its previous name as The Hub, which many people have continued to use over the past decade since it became the NCCD, the name also recognises the building’s status as a multi-arts centre hub for broader expression of arts and creativity beyond craft and design.

“The Hub is a hub in every sense of the word,” said Cllr Richard Wright, Leader of North Kesteven District Council which owns the centre and operates the wider NK arts programme based there.

“The Hub in Sleaford is central to the Council’s and the town’s cultural expression where most artistic activity takes place. From here the artsNK, danceNK and other artistic community outreach endeavours emanate like spokes in a wheel. It is a place where things happen and a place where connections and partnerships are made.

“And even more so now, with its wonderful new extended café and outside terrace it is a place where we anticipate dynamic and vibrant exchanges of ideas, and sparks of creativity and connection to be stimulated.”

The Hub originally opened at Navigation Yard in 2003, as ‘The Centre for Craft, Design and Making’; a £2.4m conversion of the old riverside warehouse, and taking over from the previous Pearoom at Heckington as the District’s exhibition and creative space. It re-branded in 2011 as the National Centre for Craft & Design in recognition of its national portfolio status and position hosting England’s largest gallery space dedicated to craft and design.

A plaque inside the door saying ‘This used to be a seed warehouse, it still is’, marries the building’s heritage as the hub of an early 20th century international seed trade operation with its new purpose as a hub propagating creativity and artistic expression.

“Of course, the Hub is the name that people most commonly continue to know it by,” said Cllr Wright.

“It is a favourite name and as we seek to strengthen the centre’s position within the community, with more emphasis on relevance and accessibility, we recognise that people feel more comfortable and confident in accessing somewhere with an identity that is familiar to them.”

The Hub maintains Arts Council England’s national portfolio status and continues to operate as a national centre for craft and design, drawing world-class artists, exhibitions, and collaborations, as well as being a hub for more local-based and community creativity.

The programme incorporating findings of the pre-refurbishment consultation – where existing and potential customers identified their preferences including more visually engaging installations, live performances and more clubs and workshops – is being developed as Covid restrictions ease.

The Hub featuring new signage