Historic stable block may become arts venue

Thebes Annexe in the heart of Lewes
Thebes Annexe in the heart of Lewes
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Thebes Annexe has been earmarked by the council leader as a possible venue for arts and crafts.

Owned by Lewes District Council, Thebes is a former stable block at the rear of Lewes House.

The town centre building has a long association with arts, including being home to the statue The Kiss by Auguste Rodin.

In 1904 the then owner of Lewes House, Edward Perry Warren, commissioned Rodin to create a version of The Kiss. While larger than the original, it is considered to be the best and is now housed at Tate Modern.

Leader of Lewes District Council, councillor Andy Smith said: “The town of Lewes has a unique culture that sets it apart from any other in Sussex.

“It has a creative soul that adds so much colour, vibrancy and interest to the tapestry of local life.

“And it is fair to say that in recent times the community of artists and craftspeople has had to adjust to changes within the town.

“With this in mind, when I discovered that the Thebes would soon be available, I immediately saw an opportunity to reconnect the building with its legacy as a platform for the arts.

“Thebes Annexe will be marketed along with the Turkish Baths, and it is my hope that local people and groups will also be excited by the possibility I’ve described and register their interest in the site.”

This comes after the Turkish Baths were the subject of an online petition – signed by more than 1,400 people and set up by councillor Joanna Carter – calling for the building to be kept in public use.

Last year Lewes District Council agreed to spend a reported £220,000 on refurbishing the Baths, in Friars Walk, to rent it out for private use.

But the petition urged the council to reconsider and keep the building as a part of the community. An alternative plan, put forward by Making Lewes, the organisation behind the Make Lewes Festival, was to open up the building as a public arts workshop.

Meanwhile, Lewes District Council’s annual festival of the arts, Artwave, is running from August 19 to September 3. Attracting nearly 50,000 visitors, it is one of the most popular visual arts events in East Sussex. More than 140 venues across the district have signed up.

For more information on Artwave, visit www.artwavefestival.org and follow on Twitter and Instagram @artwavefestival