Members may recall that over the years Belsize Residents’ Association made a number of donations to the WAC Arts organisation, based in the old Hampstead Town Hall on Haverstock Hill. In 2019 BelSoc continued this with a further donation of £200. For members unaware of the organisation’s work, we thought some account of its history and activities might be welcome, particularly in view of its intention to carry out some building work within the Town Hall. As you may know, the Town Hall is a Grade II listed building. BelSoc now has as one of its charitable objectives to promote high standards of architecture, conservation, planning, design and use of buildings in Belsize Ward, and to promote the protection, development and improvement of features of historic interest in the area. So it will be part of our responsibility to take an interest if significant changes of this kind are planned.
WAC Arts is a charity that has been in existence for forty years and provides access to the performing arts for the young, the disabled and the disadvantaged. It also provides support and services to other charities and organisations to help them promote their own effectiveness, offering professional advice, training, event and conference management and accommodation. It began life in a community hall and then quickly moved to the Inter-Action site in Kentish Town, where access to studios and a large hall afforded opportunities to increase its intake of young people and extend the range of programmes on offer at weekends. Twenty years later and with a full weekend of activity for 5-26 year olds, it found itself to have outgrown the Inter-Action space and in 2000 secured the Old Town Hall, which was about to be turned into a commercial site, as its new home.