The closure of an amateur dramatics group celebrating its 60th anniversary this year would be ‘horrifying’, its chairman has claimed.
Barry Syder, 54, of Horsham, is the chairman of HAODS (Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society), which has been based in the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre for about 25 years.
However, there is no place for HAODS in the plans for a new sports centre in the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant, revealed last month.
Mr Syder has warned that unless Horsham District Council can help find the society a new home, it faces closure.
He said: “With the loss of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre and the new sports centre coming in, we are potentially finding ourselves homeless.
“We are very keen that HAODS shouldn’t die away after 60 years of success, but unless we can find a home that is probably what will happen.
“We have some very long-standing members who have put so much work in behind the scenes. The thought of us losing all that is horrifying.”
Last week, the County Times reported how members of Horsham District Indoor Bowls Club feared the new plans could result in the group’s ‘death’.
And Mr Syder believes that, should HAODS also be made homeless, the town will be losing a group that has established itself over a number of decades.
He said: “Not only would it be a loss to those people involved, but to the artistic life of Horsham, which we have been part of for many years.
“We are at the forefront of cultural life in Horsham.
“I can understand that the user group and HDC want a new sports centre and it all looks great for those groups that are going to be involved in it, but it’s not so great for the groups that have been cast by the wayside.”
HAODS’ exact specifications for a headquarters have been met at their current leisure centre home, but the precision of these details means it will be difficult for them to find another suitable location.
Last month, Jonathan Chowen, HDC cabinet member for arts, heritage, and leisure, said the council was in negotiations with HAODS to move the group to the Drill Hall, Denne Road, Horsham.
However, Mr Syder said the venue would require ‘considerable changes’ to meet the group’s needs.
The society celebrates its 60th birthday this year.
Mr Syder added: “We put in a report basically suggesting we could move to the Drill Hall, but it would obviously require some considerable changes and we would need to access it quite a lot because it’s not just a once a week thing, it is pretty active most evenings.
“It is not just a case of finding a hall or somewhere we can rehearse, it is everything that comes with putting together big productions.”