Youngsters are rallying to save a much-loved Eastbourne dance studio which is facing closure.
After just two years in its new home, S3 Studios in Hammonds Drive Industrial Estate could close unless it raises enough money.
Husband and wife Robert and Chloe Gregg invested thousands of pounds into their dream of making a hub where young people from Eastbourne could meet, dance, and keep fit.
They set up a school there for their street dance classes, Street Styles 4 All, equipped with a freestyle gym with a foam pit and play area.
But Robert says rocketing rents and ‘crippling’ business rates are threatening the business.
He said, “We’d love to keep it going, we are trying to do something for the community and we put all the money back in to making the place better.
“Everything’s just too expensive, with the rent, the rates and everything else that comes with it.
“We are in a particularly expensive area with warehouses, but there was no other building in the whole of Eastbourne that would allow us to do this. We have put so much money in to keeping it going but we need some support.”
Around 300 to 500 students use the studio a week, Robert says, and it is the perfect place for youngsters to blow off steam.
“We have got something very unique,” he said, “Nearly all our visitors are young people – boys, girls, teens. It’s so good for the boys especially to give them something to do, to put their energy into.”
The community has come together in a bid to save the studio, holding various events to fundraise – including dance competitions, cake sales, and workshops. A crowdfunding page has been launched online, with the hashtag #saves3studios.
Robert, who has been teaching dance for 12 years, said, “We are fighters, we will work something out. We are trying to raise awareness, if anyone wants to help a community business. It’s a needed thing in Eastbourne, there’s nothing like it.”
The crowdfunder says, “We have an amazing place here for our students of all ages and a safe hub for them to create and improve their talents. They see this as a home from home.”
When approached for a comment, a spokesperson from Eastbourne Borough Council said, “Business rates in Eastbourne are set by the government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The council’s role is to collect the rates and to advise businesses if they are having problems making the payments.
“S3 Studios fell into arrears and we agreed a repayment plan with them. We also advised them to make an application for discretionary rate relief but this has not been done and it’s also unclear if they have contacted the VOA to request a re-evaluation of the rateable value.
“We have not initiated recovery action at this stage and continue to hope that they are able to meet the special arrangements we have put in place.”