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Stour Valley Arts with bases in Elwick Road, Ashford, and King's Wood, Challock, shuts after failing to get further Arts Council England funding

A large arts organisation announced today it has been forced to cease trading after failing to secure funding for future events.

Stour Valley Arts (SVA), with bases in Elwick Road, Ashford, and King's Wood, Challock, has been putting on creative events for 21 years but admitted today it can no longer continue.

Staff and volunteers organised activities for children and families, many of them in picturesque King's Wood, as well as commissioning work by artists.

Headcorn Morris at the summer arts event in 2009
Headcorn Morris at the summer arts event in 2009
Last year's big arts day
Last year's big arts day

Spokesman Ian Ross said this afternoon: "On behalf of the board of trustees for Stour Valley Arts, we regret to announce that despite extensive re-visioning we have been unable to secure further funding from Arts Council England.

"This leaves us unable to continue the work of the organisation and with great sadness we have taken the very difficult decision to cease trading.

"We would like to thank all those individuals and organisations with whom we have worked over the last 21 years.

"We are confident the legacy of Stour Valley Arts’ vision will continue to offer inspiration for future generations."

Youngsters taking part in the world's longest drawing attempt in 2003
Youngsters taking part in the world's longest drawing attempt in 2003
Artist Martin Glover in King's Wood with artwork in 2007. Picture: Gary Browne
Artist Martin Glover in King's Wood with artwork in 2007. Picture: Gary Browne

SVA chairman Maggie Anwell added: "I am deeply saddened by this news.

"Stour Valley Arts has been a leader in the field of art in the environment and has been enormously valued by all those who have engaged with it, whether as artists or audience."

"We are confident the legacy of Stour Valley Arts’ vision will continue to offer inspiration for future generations" - Ian Ross

SVA worked with artists, other arts organisations, scientists, health professionals and environmental organisations to create artworks that encouraged the public to interact with the natural environment.

Many artists were commissioned to create sculptures within King's Wood, using materials found in the forest. The sculptures then changed with the seasons and the weather, eventually decaying and becoming part of the forest again.

Last year SVA built a studio in the woods, complete with bedroom, shower and kitchenette, where visual artists, writers, poets and other creative individuals could spend between two and six weeks concentrating on their work.

Hutton Lo and Dr Ian Bride in one of the new studios that opened last year. Picture: Paul Amos
Hutton Lo and Dr Ian Bride in one of the new studios that opened last year. Picture: Paul Amos

Events organised by the group over the years have included talks and guided walks through the wood, exhibitions, performances and workshops.

King’s Wood is a 1500-acre forest in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty managed by Forest Enterprise, part of the Forestry Commission.

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