THE 50th anniversary of the Bridport Arts Centre (BAC) was celebrated as a photo taken at its launch in 1973 was recreated.

The arts venue in South Street turned 50 on Thursday, May 18 and decided to mark the occasion by turning the clocks back to its foundation.

Bridport Arts Centre is a multi-arts venue presenting a year-round programme of visual arts, theatre, dance, comedy, music, spoken word and films and screenings., serving audiences across Dorset and the south west.

It came about when the Wesleyan chapel in Bucky Doo Square was purchased by a community group for conversion into a longed-for theatre for the market town.

Former BAC director Chris Huxley said that he wanted to create a 'symbolic event' to 'honour' the arts centre's founders, without whom the organisation 'would not have come into being'.

The new portrait represents those founding figures and contact was made with some of the direct descendants of the original line-up, as well as individuals with deep connections to the arts centre.

Sandra Brown is the last remaining member of the original steering group that started fundraising and searching for a suitable building as early as 1968.

The 'irrefusable driving force' of Peggy Chapman-Andrews helped to guarentee the 'dream' formation of the centre which is still thriving today. 

Ms Brown said: "No one could say no to Peggy. After the building was secured she rang me again to say she'd had another idea.

"She wisely knew we wouldn't just need capital for the purchase and conversion work on the old chapel but also an income to keep it maintained and developing - what about an annual fundraising writing competition? 

"Now we had the Bridport Arts Centre and the Bridport Prize - which would go on to become an internationally-acclaimed literary institution."

The BAC lobby featured a display of the centre's 1960s and 1970s archive that has begun to be collected by the arts centre's 'time team', including trustee Ines Cavill.

"It was a special part of our 50th 'thankyou' launch event to see how the earliest newspaper cuttings and posters sparked memories of BAC's origins as well as reflecting so many continuities for the arts centre," she said.

"Bringing international talent to Bridport, sharing a writing competition with the rest of the world, programming the best national and local artists - and giving support to the next generation of creatives too."

The display of early archive in the BAC lobby will be available to view until Saturday, June 10 along with the current exhibition upstairs in the Allsop Gallery. 

Both exhibitions are free to enter from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 10am and 4pm.