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Prema (pronounced Prayma) is a Sanskrit word meaning “selflessness, sharing and forward”. The concept of Prema was started back in 1977 by the Centre’s originator Andrew Wood and “Prema Project” opened its doors for the first time in January 1981 after many years of fundraising and building work.

Some key facts and figures

Prema welcomes over 73,000 visitors each year.

Nearly 7,000 children and toddlers take part in activities every year at Prema.
Prema has just 2.3 members of core staff, but works with over 70 local artists every year to provide a rich and diverse programme.

Each week, Prema‘s programme is enjoyed by

  • 119 children who are dancing, making, sculpting, painting, acting and getting enthused about the arts
  • 17 toddlers and their parents who make a whole lot of mess and have a whale of a time
  • 315 adults who dance, sing, throw pots, explore drawing, learn to knit etc

Each term, Prema‘s music, theatre and dance (live) programme is enjoyed by

  • 1,075 people who experience quality live music in a range of styles from all corners of the world
  • 420 people who are left thinking, enthused and asking questions after seeing a piece of live theatre or dance here at Prema
  • 12,700 people dropping in to look around the space and enjoy Prema‘s free exhibitions

Bethesda Chapel was a working Baptist Chapel until the early 1970s. The building was converted from a single-storey shell to its present two-storey incarnation by using an award-winning design by Richard Fielden Architects. Bethesda Chapel is a modestly sized building and yet its clever conversion into an Arts Centre has transformed the space into something of a tardis – visitors often comment “Prema‘s much bigger on the inside, isn’t it?”.

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