BRIDGWATER Arts Centre is today celebrating its 75th anniversary with an open day.

Between 11am and 4pm, the Arts Centre’s bar will be open, the Chandos Society will host an art exhibition in the gallery, and musicians will be performing throughout the day.

Food will also be available in the Art Centre's garden. 

The event, which will commemorate the first centre provided by the Arts Council of Britain opening in Bridgwater in 1946, is free to attend, and tickets and memberships are not required. 

Bridgwater Town Council leader Brian Smedley said: "The Arts Centre is another Bridgwater first which we are incredibly proud of and is crucial to such a creative town as ours.

"It’s survived 75 years despite all the odds, and we need it to survive another 75, at least.

"But for that to happen we need people to support it and make sure it survives.

"The centre needs volunteers to run it, customers to use it and promoters and performers to recognise its place as an ideal intimate venue for the creative, performance and visual arts."

The opening of the Arts Centre marked a significant day in the town’s history.

Around 200 people attended its opening ceremony on Thursday, October 10, 1946.

A reporter for the Bridgwater Mercury wrote: "As another chapter in Bridgwater’s proud history was opened on Thursday, so there was written another page in the history of the country, for it was on that day that Bridgwater Arts Centre – the first of its kind in the country to be provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain – was officially opened.

"Not only is the centre to be utilised for the presentation of music and dramatic performances, displays of paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc., but there is also to be an Arts Club where the amenities of a social centre can be enjoyed."

Bridgwater Mercury:

The mayor of Bridgwater, lieutenant colonel R. Chamberlin OBE, described the opening as a "red-letter day" for the town.

Steuart Wilson of the Arts Council of Great Britain said: "We are bringing you such performances of opera as can be carried around in convenient pocket size.

"I hope Bridgwater will become known as a centre for spreading a new kind of programme, and providing interests to people who are already devotees of the arts."

Sir Ernest Pooley, chairman of the Arts Council, said: "This is the first time in the history of the country that the State has made a grant to promote access to the arts and encourage high standards of arts.

"There are only two sources by which the spirit of man can be lifted upwards – one is religion, the other is art."

The Art Centre’s opening shows by the Travelling Opera Group were reviewed in the Mercury.

The reviewer, named in the newspaper only as T.B., wrote: "A delectable operatic pie of ample proportions, from which delightfully appetising portions were served up, was provided for audiences at the new Bridgwater Arts Centre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings of last week."

The metaphors did not end there, with the reviewer continuing: "While, like Oliver Twist, people may well have asked for more, the sensations prompting the demand were as poles apart.

"Poor Oliver was emboldened by extreme hunger to ask for more of very meagre fare.

"But visitors to the Arts Centre would desire more on the basis of the argument that one cannot have too much of a good thing.

"They tasted these apportionments of opera and found them to their liking.

"The operatic group has now gone on tour.

"One thing is certain, and it is that wherever it goes it will quickly establish a firm place in the affections of the people." 

Hopefully, people will continue to enjoy the portions offered at the Arts Centre as much as T.B. enjoyed his slice of the pie back in 1946.