The History of BATS
The Friends of Brixham Theatre was formed in 2008 by a group of like minded individuals who were concerned that Brixham Theatre was under-used and was falling into disrepair. This group later re-named itself as Brixham Arts and Theatre Society (BATS), with a wider remit to support the arts in the Brixham area.
BATS made an agreement with Torbay Council, then owners of Brixham Theatre to take on its management from 2010, until the building was transferred to Brixham Town Council. Before being granted a tenancy for Brixham Theatre in September 2013, the community group became Brixham Arts & Theatre Society, a non-profit making company, limited by guarantee.
The Company Mission has always been to support and encourage artistic endeavour in the Brixham peninsula.
- Encouraging existing artistic groups
- Supporting new artistic ventures
- Promoting artistic aspirations
- Developing artistic opportunities for all generations
- Creating arts, theatre and community hubs in Brixham
BATS operated on a purely voluntary basis, by the BATS Members, with professional expertise contracted as required. All surplus funds are used to enhance the professional programmes available and specific artistic projects, including fostering new writing and creation, in the Brixham area.
BATS operated Brixham Theatre from September 2013 to May 2018, when the ever-increasing overheads, including a 50% increase in rent, and diminishing hirings made the theatre unviable and the BATS Board handed back the lease to Brixham Town Council under the break clause.
BATS continues to support exciting new projects that advance the arts and culture in Brixham and the surrounding area.
In March 2018 BATS was approached to investigate whether a redundant industrial unit that had been used by a church group would make a good participatory centre for the arts. BATS agreed to a start-up loan and helped set up PPT Arts & Events CIC and The Spark Creative Studio opened in July 2018 in Metherell Avenue. The Spark holds classes in all art forms for all ages, as well as being a vibrant community centre available for hire. BATS Board continue to provide financial and legal skills and supports the management of The Spark.
In November 2018 BATS commissioned the Brixham Beacon, a sculptural artwork, to replace the old destroyed fire basket on Berry Head. The Brixham Beacon was first used when BATS staged the celebration of 70 years after the end of World War 1, with a lighting of the beacon and songs and readings from the period. The Brixham Beacon was re-housed at Lupton House for use in a meditation walkway, with the proviso that it is available for community groups to use in Brixham when required. The second outing for the Beacon was when Brixham Town Council used it as part of the national chain of lights as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022.
BATS also curated a sustainable recycled art project for the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, creating Doves of Peace out of milk bottles collected from restaurants, cafes and offices in Brixham town centre. The resulting birds were strung and hung on display in shops, cafes and offices around the town centre. A workshop was also held in Fore Street for the public to learn how to make the birds for their own gardens.
During the Covid pandemic BATS Board members started researching stories, pictures and memories that people had of life on the many Steps of Brixham. They contracted Dave Barter, of Nautoguide, to create a specialist map, located on www.brixhamwalks.org. with an aim that this would become a definitive mapping of many walks in Brixham, starting with The Steps, a unique aspect of Brixham's geography. The map is planned to go live in Autumn 2023, with other maps being added, such as The Murals of Brixham, Brixham's Wartime History, Nature Trauils etc. Other organisations are invited to add their own walks to the map, making Brixham very accessible to anyone wherever they are in the country.
In 2023 BATS commissioned Neil Wilkinson-Cave, of Scaredart Murals, to paint a double mural of the embarkation of American troops from Brixham for Exercise Tiger and Operation Overlord, as part of the D-Day landings in Normandy. The aim is to bring together information on the sites reflecting a time when Brixham played a vital role in World history. The mural will be officially opened by Deputy Lord Lieutenant Brian Wills-Pope MBE on 15th July 2023 at a Dedication ceremony.