@ the Lit
Our journey has been an interesting one with conversations about turning the Literary Institute, an historic building owned by Runnymede Borough Council, into a community asset dating back to early 2018 sparked by an idea from The Egham Museum (who are now our neighbours)!
The Lit Trustees want to thank everyone who has supported the campaign along the way.
How it all began…
After the idea was sparked by The Egham Museum in 2018, a group of passionate individuals formed the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group. Consisting of volunteers from across Egham and surrounding areas, and with advice from local Councillors, the Working Group consulted with residents and potential partners about the appetite for a cultural community hub housed in The Literary Institute in Egham from early 2019. A Business Plan that outlined our vision for the space was developed and included letters of support from a number of partners who would make The Lit their home, as well as those who committed to hire the space and individuals who proactively stated they would frequent a new hub engaging in the varied activities it would offer. The Business Plan was shared with Runnymede Borough Council in December 2019.
Members of the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group made a presentation to Runnymede Borough Council’s Community Services Committee on 9 January 2020. This was followed by a meeting with the Leader of the Council, the Deputy Leader and the Corporate Head of Community Development on 13 January. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic temporarily paused this positive momentum as businesses, retail, places of education and leisure closed soon after, and Runnymede Borough Council diverted their resources to those on the frontline and residents who required emergency support.
Following lockdown easements in May 2020 and the Government announcement that further businesses and venues would be allowed to open from 4 June 2020, the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group were eager to continue conversations with the Council.
On 4 August 2020, a meeting was held at the Literary Institute with the Council’s new Head of Assets and Regeneration, which marked the beginning of the next phase in our journey. At this time, the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group had recruited 3 new volunteers to form the founding Trustees. And the Trustees and Working Group were asked to work with the Council’s Commercial Department to draft Heads of Terms for the lease of the Lit for presentation at the Corporate Management Committee meeting. This took place in September 2020 and the proposal was approved unanimously by Councillors. An official announcement followed in October on the Council’s website.
The task of setting up a new charity and negotiating a lest commenced. And after lots of hard work, we achieved registered charity status on 23 March 2021, and the lease was signed on 20 May 2021.
Two days after signing the lease, we piloted our first opening, where we hosted an arts and craft fair in the main hall to co-inside with the Vegan Market taking place in the High Street. We also hosted the Egham Festival of Music on 21 June 2021, and opened on Magna Carta Day on 26 June 2021 as part of a soft launch.