WHO WE ARE
The Hippodrome is an arts space where people of all ages can meet to enjoy theatre, music, exhibitions, poetry and film in the picturesque fishing town of Eyemouth. It is run by Hippodrome Arts CIC Ltd and alongside a changing programme of events will offer courses, talks, concerts, film screenings and activities to visitors and the community.
A first phase of construction work has converted the ground floor, giving a flexible space for exhibitions and performances, with large double doors opening the building out to the harbour. An external terrace provides ramped access, and the potential for an outdoor seating and performance area, bringing activity to the harbour quay
A “pop-up”cafe opens during events and for weekends in the summer. It is a light airy space with magnificent views of the harbour. You can sit with a drink on the terrace and watch the activity as fishing boats land their catch. Light lunches are available during the Herring Queen Festival with locally sourced products and delicious home baking. The cafe area is also used for exhibitions and as an informal meeting and performance space.
From Autumn through to early Summer the Hippodrome runs its season of live music concerts with an eclectic programme of folk, jazz, roots and blues. We also host a free open mic session Bare Roots on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
Tony McManus Photo: Sandy Watson
HIPPODROME ARTS CIC LTD
The Hippodrome was established in 2013 as a mixed use arts space, to promote and support creative activity through a programme of exhibitions, performances and events. It aims to engage with audiences by promoting quality, innovation and excellence in the arts and making opportunities for these experiences available to as wide a range of people as possible.
Hippodrome Arts CIC Ltd is a social enterprise based in an historic building on the harbour, once the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Originally built in the 1830’s as a granary, the building was used for fishing trade activities from running boats, gutting, packing and smoking fish, to stabling horses, mending nets and holding celebrations in the sail loft. Over time it acquired the nickname of “the Hippodrome”, borrowed in all likelihood from the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth where the herring fleet gathered at the end of the season.
The building was bought in 2012 and Hippodrome Arts CIC was set up the following year with Ian and Paula Tod as directors. The directors are responsible for strategic and project management and the day to day running of the Hippodrome with support from volunteers.
The initial capital project supported by the European Fisheries Fund (AXIS 4), Scottish Borders Council, and private individuals saw the first phase of construction work in 2015 and the conversion of the ground floor, giving a flexible space for exhibitions and performances. Large double doors opened the building to the harbour. An external terrace provided ramped access for outdoor seating and a potential performance area to bring activity to the harbour quay. With the relative decline in fishing, the re-use of the redundant mission building as an arts centre supports key initiatives; the redevelopment of the harbour to diversify and increase its economic potential and the provision of community resources accessible to all. The multi purpose arts venue creates a new sector for the economy, with the objectives of raising the profile of the town for a much wider cultural community and bringing new visitors to Eyemouth.
In 2013 -14 the Hippodrome hosted a number of projects which tested the viability of the concept, whilst celebrating the town’s cultural identity. Casting the Net, a project, devised and curated by Borders Arts Trust (BAT), connected the rich cultural heritage of land and sea with contemporary artists giving visibility to local industry and communities in Eyemouth and Selkirk.
The Vision For Eyemouth initiative invited organisations, members of the public and interested parties to work together on a strategic regeneration plan for Eyemouth and opened the space to the community through a series of public meetings and consultation processes. An exhibition of paintings and photographs of the local fishing industry during the Herring Queen Festival in 2014 engaged people in conversations about the past, present and future of the town through the familiar and convivial environment of a “pop-up “cafe.
Following the refurbishment of the ground floor, the Hippodrome has continued to develop the scope of its activities. The focus has been based around music, performance and the visual arts, learning, food, place making and the environment and working with local creative communities. Projects continue to be inspired by the particular sense of place, history and location. A Cinema in South Georgia, a piece of ensemble theatre written by Jeffrey Mayhew and Eyemouth resident, Susan Wilson, brought to life the experiences of four Eyemouth men and highlighted the dangers inherent in the fishing industry, specifically of whalers in the mid twentieth century, whilst Katie Scarlett Howard’s ceramics of Herring Girls and Thomas Hawson’s Lost at Sea showed familiar narratives from new perspectives through the work of contemporary practitioners. The music programme continues to develop in strength with representation from the best of the UK and international music scene. The repertoire of concerts has expanded with a growing audience interested in jazz, classical and world music, together with a consistent demand for traditional folk and roots.
The Hippodrome values working in partnership with other organisations and individuals. It provides exhibition and performance space and residency opportunities to artists and groups. Opportunities for skills sharing, collaboration and support have come through connections with organisations such as CABN, Sound Cycle and Borders Live, with fruitful links to arts networks in the Borders. Courses run by organisations such as Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh tap directly into the natural resources of the area, expanding opportunities for learning and research. Contemporary theatre companies like Feral Productions and Electric Voice Theatre have demonstrated the versatility of the space and brought original and innovative work to local audiences. Ongoing projects with the Eyemouth Music Initiative and Leeds College of Music offer exciting opportunities for collaboration with highly skilled professionals, community engagement in the making process and an appreciation of contemporary practice through exhibitions and performance. The project with LCM enables the Hippodrome to pursue a number of related audience development goals and to broaden the reach of its activity beyond the town itself.
The current capital works at the Hippodrome are supported by the European Fisheries Fund (AXIS 4), Scottish Borders Council, and private individuals.