And so Farewell the Waiting Room


And so farewell the wonderful Waiting Room down at St Botolphs’s.

When you are writing these hit and miss blog posts, you need an angle in which to describe whatever it is that you are talking about.

The backwards CBC, the punchy Arts Centre, the splendour of Castle Park.

We’ve been trying for the past five minutes to try and define exactly what the Waiting Room has become since opening in August 2013.

Like many folk around the town, we understand exactly what takes place within the building and surrounds, but we can’t quite describe it.

Let’s just say:

And so farewell the wonderful Waiting Room down at St Botolphs’s.

Co-founder Marc De’ath has confirmed that the Waiting Room team in the current location will come to a close – fittingly on 31st December 2016.

This was always a suck it and see project, reliant on the stalling Cultural Quarter regeneration, and the generosity / don’t give a shit attitude of CBC.

We are surprised that the Waiting Room team has managed to survive for so long to be honest.

Marc explains:

“The project was originally intended to be a 12 month pop-up style project, to test the viability of a ‘do-it-yourself’ style events venue. This was to run alongside a community kitchen and a Maker Space, providing affordable open access to a workshop and tools for local makers and artists. Looking back, three years later we couldn’t have predicted just how popular it would become!”

It is impossible to list the many achievements that have taken place at St Botolphs’s since the space first opened. We haven’t been to nearly as many event as we would have liked.

Personal highlights include the food from the Gamekeeper’s Daughter, Fish and Chip Fridays and the way that the Waiting Room somehow became the central focal point for the past two Colchester Big Sundays.

Regeneration is of course the reason why the Waiting Room team need to shut up shop with a dignified exit under their own terms.

If you had believed some of the CBC Cultural Quarter masterplans from almost a decade ago, then this stretch of town should by now be Covent Garden cum Colchester.

This may – or may not – still be happening. But you have to applaud the decision of Marc and his team to quit on their own terms.

One of our ever-changing mantras at The Chronic is to celebrate failure in Sunny Colch. We would HATE it if everything worked and went to plan. The town would stop to take chances and explore what can be achieved with a little imagination.

The Waiting Room has far from failed, but it has survived by adapting almost daily to the challenges of the space, and taking risks without too much worry of what the consequences might be.

We use to dread the dropping of the weekly email that listed all of the events coming up over the next week or so. It would take the best part of an hour just to pre-load all of their promo tweets.

Somehow the Waiting Room has managed to attract a team of like-minded Sunny Colch folk who were keen to put in place a DIY ethos in the absence of any other leadership.

The Waiting Room more than held its own when compared to that big gold building sneering down from the slope.

As for what next?

So many local people and groups have called the Waiting Room their home over the past three years. Somewhere new now needs to be found.

This needn’t be a singular space. We’ve often wondered how all of the workshop space and event areas managed to happily co-exist.

Of course there’s the Creative Business Centre just down the road at Queen Street. The management of this CBC backed business would do well to observe how Marc and his team have been so successful with their openness to creativity in Colchester.

The enthusiasm and passion for the town will be taken by those that have enjoyed the Waiting Room, and then hopefully put in place elsewhere.

And so farewell the wonderful Waiting Room.

Whatever you were.


9 thoughts on “And so Farewell the Waiting Room

  • 29th September 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Lots of digs at the council here, which does surprise me as someone that lives in Chelmsford. Here we mostly see Colchester council as being rather sympathetic to the arts – maybe it’s different actually living there. But just be thankful that you don’t have Chelmsford council, a council that uniformly piles obstacles in front of any artistic ventures in favour of office space and flats. Just ask any locals about the allocated so-called art space the Gallery Outside (by the river) and watch them squirm (if they’re even aware of it) with embarrassment. Better the devil you know.

  • 29th September 2016 at 6:57 pm

    What a wonderful place and use of space The Waiting Rooms became, always giving to the community a friendly and positive place for creative poeple to express themselves.
    I am sure like many many others that the fantastic environment this place gave will be missed and I dearly hope that some sort of re incarnation of this place will pop up in another un-used space in Colchester giving the so talented creative poeple a home again.

    Chris Mayne

  • 29th September 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Colchester Council is VERY sympathetic to the Arts and has supported the Waiting Room from day one. I know Castle Councillors used their locality budget to support it. We are also investing one million pounds towards redeveloping the Mercury Theatre . Surely that shows confidence and commitment? We support Anthony Roberts and the Arts Centre with grants and a great belief in what he is doing. Whilst PH for regeneration I pushed hard for us to buy the old Police Station with a view to it becoming a creative arts centre. Obtaining funding in a recession was impossible but now it is near completion and will be a vibrant creative hub for creative industries. All these things are fully supported by CBC and it is disappointing to read such negativity. The idea is to work together.

  • 29th September 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Love this place it’s been truly inspirational. I’ll be sad to see it go. It’s incredible well done to everyone involved xxx. ❤️❤️❤️

  • 29th September 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Why get rid of something that has a bit of Character and History (I remember sitting in this waiting room many a time as a child) and is a success and different. What is going in its place? An answer please.

  • 29th September 2016 at 11:24 pm

    A wonderful place to get involved in, all sorts of creative pursuits and enlightening things. I’m sad to see it go, along with Slackspace. I do hope the new hub will be just as successful, accessible and inclusive. Art and creativity free the soul and stop some from going insane. We need more art, creativity, community and togetherness in these times of “austerity”. Well done Marc and the team for all the great things you’ve done for the community and Thank You!

  • 30th September 2016 at 8:30 am

    Lynn Barton rightly points out the support that cbc gives to the arts in Colchester but why not also congratulate Marc and his team for devoting so much time and energy mostly voluntary so that funding is used for the benefit of the community. What an amazing job they have done and continue to do.

  • 30th September 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Just retweeted an article entitled ‘Colchester is Essex’s creative capital according to new report’.
    ….and was feeling rather positive. What a shame! – esp as only just paid my first visit working with the estimable Roman River Music Festival – another incredibly creative Colchester based organisation which is on at the moment.
    Thought the Waiting Room was an amazing concept and the perfect informal venue for the jazz guitar concert last Saturday night. Hopefully something equally good and left field will emerge to replace it?

  • 30th September 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Great respect for all that has been achieved there in that draughty old bus station so effectively revitalised. Its about showing what is possible and has done that in spadefulls… Well done all the people involved and particularly Marc with his combination of patience, optimism and enthusiasm. Well done The Waiting Room

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