A POPULAR community arts centre in York will close at the end of next month after losing out in an increasingly fierce competition for funding.

Space 109 in Walmgate has hosted a huge range of activities for local people, young and old – from children’s art sessions and stitchers’ get-togethers to residents’ association meetings – since it opened seven years ago.

But manager Rebecca Rea said like many charities it had to carry out a thorough review of its business model and structure, and as a result felt its role in providing services in the local community was unsustainable.

She said: “The organisation has struggled as competition for funding has become increasingly fierce.”

She said that she and the board of trustees were all relatively new and had inherited Space 109 at a time when it was already unable to make ends meet.

“Though we hoped to find a way of recovering and have carefully considered a number of options, we have concluded that Space 109 is no longer viable,” she said.

“We are sorry that we won’t be around for those people who have come to enjoy our centre and we will endeavour wherever possible to help those people find suitable alternatives.” She thanked the centre’s “wonderful” volunteers, funders and current staff.

Centre users spoke yesterday of their sadness at the closure, and said they feared they would not be able to find an alternative venue.

Marjorie Stephenson said she had been going to the centre each week since it started as a member of a stitchers’ group, which does activities such as knitting and cross-stitching.

She said Space 109 was used by all sorts of other groups, including the local residents’ association, and was important for local youngsters. “I am very sad that it’s closing,” she said.

Barbara Lunn said she did art at the centre and did not know where she would go when it shut.