The lovely Kate Chappell very kindly invited me over to view the new Levenshulme Inspire centre earlier this week and I jumped at the chance.
Having driven past the old United Reformed Church every day for the last few months I've been bowled over by the restoration work that's been done on the outside and I couldn't wait to see what was on the inside. And I wasn't disappointed - the building has been more or less gutted with stonework exposed and light flooding in from the original windows.
The main atrium, which will house a cafe open all day to patrons and visitors, has been left as a big, open space, with views onto the A6 and exposed brickwork looking very nice. The centre's aim is to provide a space for Levenshulme that builds community through creative arts and media and there are various spaces available to rent with that in mind. The remaining church space is bright and modern and will be available to hire outside of worship times, as will several other large, versatile rooms. There's a social media centre which will eventually house the wherewithal for locals individuals and businesses to discover the wonderful world of social media but for now has been left open to accommodate their first booking...a meditation class. Internal social networking, maybe?
The top floor space is home to felxible office space, designed to provide a rentable home to local home-based businesses and creatives who need some desk time. Given the amount of home-workers and burgeoning small businesses we've got in Levenshulme I 'm sure this will be well used and hopefully encourage more of Manchester's creative workers to visit us here in sunny M19. The space itself is stunning, with great views down Stockport Road.
The centre itself is due to have its grand unveiling over the weekend of 30th-31st October, as part of the Levenshulme festival. Details can be found here, and Kate ran through some of the agenda for me, all of which sounded fantastic, although the standout for me (and judging by your general response to the kebab posts, I'm guessing you lot too) was Curry Aid - home cooked curries for sale, with proceeds going to the victims of the recent flooding in Pakistan.
The centre are also running a community share scheme, granting members a stake in the new building and membership of the Inspire Forum for just a fiver. More details here.
It was great to visit to Inspire and Kate, who was as enthusiastic about what the centre could become as I'd hoped. I'm quite sure there will be plenty more to report on when they're open...watch this space!