WITH a packed programme of activities and a weekly footfall of 1,500, ‘The Civic’ is blooming since it was heralded Hyndburn’s most enterprising business. At Hyndburn Business Awards last June, the Civic Arts Centre and Theatre in Oswaldtwistle, was selected as a finalist in five categories of the Hyndburn Business Awards and won the Tourism trophy. When it came to the Stonehouse Logic Award, the beacon that all businesses strive to attain, Creative Director Gayle Knight said: “We thought that we may be in with a chance because we’d been nominated in five categories, but we were in the company of so many other big businesses and industries. We were really thrilled when our name was announced; it was an amazing honour.”

In 2010 Hyndburn Arts Limited took over the running of the arts centre and studio theatre that can seat 100. In 2015, the independent charity then took over the upstairs 450-seater theatre. Hyndburn Council had previously owned both facilities. Since winning the top award, the centre has flourished. Gayle said: “It helped to raise our profile in the community. We have seen an increase in audiences coming to shows with many being sell-outs. We already have seven sell-out shows later this year and two of our pantomime performances are also fully booked. More people are going online to book seats for shows, which means we have a better idea of numbers early on and it also helps with our cash-flow. Only half of our work is in The Civic – we also do a lot of work in schools and in the community. We are also now being approached by other organisations that want to work with us – we have just had an enquiry from the Ribble Valley from someone who wants to take our shows over there.”

The Civic, run by a small core of five full-time, two part-time, 40 casual freelancers and volunteers, is one of the main organisers of the carnival that this year will be held in Oswaldtwistle. In March, Dusty and the Shades of the 60s will turn back the clock while in April The Dads Army Show is set to pull in the crowds. Gayle said: “We are always looking for new artists and shows to bring to the centre along with new activities. In March we will be organising Oswaldtwistle’s first Food and Artisan Festival at Jubilee Gardens.”

Hyndburn Business Awards is organised by Enterprising People and is in its third year. Last year more than 400 nominations were received and Accrington Town Hall was packed for the ceremony in June. Nominations for the award open in March.

Article written by Catherine Smyth