Dansarena, Ayr (formerly the United Presbyterian Cathcart Church)
The New Church, built in 1807 at a cost of £5703, had seating for 880 worshippers and was so-called because built as an extension to the Auld Kirk, which could not cope with its growing number of members.
Despite numerous internal alterations, the church retains much of its architectural detailing both externally and internally. Of particular note, are the internal ceiling decoration and the column capital detailing, along with the good quality stained glass work.
The gateway, by William Cowie, was moved from former Relief Church in Cathcart Street.
Located in Fort Street, the building was considered as a possible arts centre when Ayr Arts Guild were seeking suitable premises in the late 1970's. The venue was used for a number of fund raising recitals with both piano and organ. Before the guild's plans could be brought to fruition, the premises were acquired by the Karen Mitchell School of dancing snafu converted to the current format..
Some programme for events at this venue are available.
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Dansarena and the Karen Mitchell School of Dancing
Formerly the Cathcart Church at 9 - 13 Fort Street, Ayr, Dansarena Studios was created in 1984 when Karen Mitchell and her husband Dennis Gage bought the grade 2 listed building from the Church Of Scotland. Barr Construction Co. did the conversion.
The majestic building has been fitted out with 4 dance studios. Fully equipped with barres, pianos and mirrors the two largest studios have maple sprung floors and the other two have Harlequin dance flooring.
A new floor was inserted at balcony level to provide a performance studio on the upper floor and a rehearsal studio at ground floor levels. The organ was removed. Changing rooms were created in the vestry and offices to the rear of the building and a coffee shop and seating area provided at each side of the ground floor studio and beside the main entrance.
Over the years, many of the young people in Ayrshire received ballet and theatre dance training at Dansarena Each year, the company provided concert performances in the upper studio and a week-long performance displaying the talents and skills of their pupils. Initially, these shows were presented in the Walker Hall, in Troon, moving to the lecture theatre at Craigie College of Education in the early 1990's and latterly, to the Gaiety Theatre. The annual show at the Gaiety was developed into a narrative event, melding dance and stories, with support from professional actors.
Karen Mitchell School of Dancing provided dancers for many local events and Karen was responsible for the choreography of some of the Ayr Intimate Opera productions.