New cabaret space in former Ramsgate WHSmith building ready for opening event

Salon Du Miel is the first of three performance spaces being created at the former WHSmith store

A new cabaret event space will open tomorrow (April 26) in the former WHSmith shop in Ramsgate.

Salon Du Miel is the first of three performance spaces being created at 5,095 Sq. Ft unit which has been taken over by Sugar Rush café and Stage Door Arts Academy CIC with Ramsgate duo Heidi Moran and Genevieve Pepper at the helm.

The performing arts school and community café moved from 66 High Street due to that site being earmarked for demolition and redevelopment.

The new Sugar Rush venue will also feature a community café with a small stage, and a professional community theatre.

Salon Du Miel is the first space to officially open after the transformation of the former shop’s stockroom.

The first event will be a spectacular night of stand up comedy hosted by the inimitable Jezebel Pye. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 7.30pm. Salon Du Miel is accessed through the rear door in Broad Street.

Tickets are £10 available at: https://www.outsavvy.com/event/19709/jezebel-pye-presents-tickle-my-clam

Genevieve said: “Salon Du Miel is the first of three performance spaces which will feature in the huge new Sugar Rush venue, as we will be adding a community café with a small stage, and a professional community theatre which will provide an affordable performance space for local schools, groups, theatre companies, bands or other acts.

“This new community theatre will specialise in bringing enjoyable, affordable entertainment to Ramsgate and the wider area. One big plan we have is to produce a pantomime with very cheap tickets, to give more families and individuals access to affordable fun!

“We are all about making the arts available and accessible to everyone, and doing things in a fresh, exciting and approachable way that includes the whole community.

“People may walk past the old WH Smith’s and think that not much has changed since we took the building over, but we have been working like very busy bees transforming the upstairs space.

“We have not only a stunning upstairs performance space, but also co working offices, a therapy/mentoring room, studios, and plenty of space to offer so much more.

How it used to look

“We are unable to progress the downstairs developments until we install new flooring. The costs we have been quoted range from £8.5-10k so we are asking local businesses and individuals to consider helping us out.

“We have carried out so much of the renovations reusing and repurposing donated materials and items, but the floor space downstairs is 530 square metres and we desperately need to cover it with a hard wearing vinyl floor throughout.

“It would be amazing if any local businesses or individuals were able to help us with this aspect of the project.

“We have had such generous donations, help and support so far from local people and volunteers who’ve travelled from all over Kent, Essex, London and even Manchester!

Gen and Heidi at the Sugar Rush premises Photo David Stillman

“Our volunteers are a bunch of absolute legends and I just want to take this opportunity to thank them, and everyone who’s given us their support. Every pound towards our crowdfunder, every donated item, every hour that someone’s spent helping us, every time we get shared on social media, every person who’s stopped me or my fellow director Heidi in the street to offer us kind words of encouragement- we are so grateful for every single kindness.

“Ramsgate is a wonderful town filled with so much talent and promise and we are thrilled to be opening a truly community-focused venue that will allow so many local people to explore and enjoy theatre, arts and entertainment, make friends and build community.”

Still work to do downstairs

Mum-of-two Heidi founded SDA in 2007 and converted it to CIC status last year. She has also run businesses ranging from tepee hire to princess parties and the café which started life in Margate Old Town in 2017 before the move to Ramsgate in 2020.

Mum-of-three Gen is a performer and has worked in marketing and advertising.

Find out how to help via Sugar Rush – The Big Build on facebook here

There is also a fundraiser to help with costs of renovating the new space.

Find the fundraising page here

36 Comments

    • The future of High Streets? Taking a disused shop and turning it in to a dance and cabaret venue seems to be an unlikely trend. Do you like Ramsgate High Street as it is then?

  1. well said robert , what is the point of this nonsense , it produces nothing . its just an excuse for a few theatricals to get together , and probably get paid for it

    • Exactly, you should see the Strand in London. Thats full of theatres. What a load of old nonsense, why do need them? Close down all arts venues and replace them with a Poundstretcher. Oh hang on… we already have one of those on Ramsgate high street.. just next to the boarded up clothes shop.. down from the boarded up Argos…I think there is a soon to be closed Nat West on the corner and a knackered old Post Office too..

  2. What negative, unwelcome comments. Utterly horrible.

    This project is to be admired. These ladies have worked miracles and so have their band of volunteers.

    Smiths closed. Would you have all of the town shops nothing but closed?

    If this is the future then Sugar Rush has my vote. They couldn’t be further away from arty farty if they tried.

    What this crew needs is some support. What they’re asking for is modest and will have impact.

    Granted ‘the arts’ has variable fortunes and talent, but tell me any walk of life that isn’t the same?

    Go for it Sugar Rush. What you’re doing is accessible, inclusive, entertaining and relevant. Ramsgate needs you.

    • Well said. there is always the Troll contingent on here. They bounce between here and Kent Online. I think anything that gives life to the rather sad High Street should be encouraged

  3. I like it, but as with the arts and/or educational things in Margate High Street, it’s in the wrong place. (a) It will discourage daytime shoppers even more, and (b) It doesn’t feel like a safe and welcoming area at night.

    I wish them lots of luck.

    • Ramsgate High St is perfectly safe. Where should a Ramsgate Town Centre entertainment venue go if it isn’t in Ramsgate Town Centre?

        • The “very frequent reports on here” actually demonstrate that for most people, most of the time (ie possibly not young drunk men at 03:00 in the morning) Ramsgate’s town centre is as safe as anywhere.
          The customers enjoying live music at the Red Lion, the Horse and Groom, the Ramsgate Music Hall and so on seem quite content.

    • What would you prefer? I’m interested to know how you see the centres of our historic old towns developing now that internet and out of town shopping has heralded the end of major retailers on our high street?

  4. Why shouldn’t empty shops be repurposed for entertainment venues? Times are changing, adapt.

    What would you prefer?

    • I’d prefer that High Streets (at least in Margate and Ramsgate) are shortened, and the rest converted and/or demolished to make way for housing. Far better than concreting over our fields.

      I support it in principal – but as someone who lives outside Ramsgate and doesn’t drive, I’m unlikely to want to wander along a High Street of closed shops at night to visit a theatre. At least The Granville (which I’ve visited several times) is in a more salubrious part of town, and a well-lit stroll from the bus stops.

  5. Well I for one won’t be going in there, I’ll spend my money in The Artillery Arms thank you very much.

  6. More discount shops that could compete with online sites. More decent eateries and take-aways. I do enjoy a doner kebab with fresh salad. Good restaurants in the high Street. Make the high street bright and cheerful so that locals will happily go there. A good police presence would also help.
    No to arty-farty venues. They wouldn’t stand a chance on Britain’s Got Talent.

  7. Affordable, excellent, inclusive entertainment. Giving Ramsgate locals of all ages a chance to learn theatre/ film acting skills. Giving Ramsgate and Thanet locals an affordable sound stage. OR – more empty Air BnBs.
    It’s a difficult decision.

  8. So people take an empty space and create something positive, where kids and adults can have fun and learn new skills and gain confidence, and out people come to moan about it?? Come on, no one else was going to do anything with it, in what works is it a better option to leave it empty and rotting? So what if you don’t fancy it, not everything had to be for everyone, but whatever else this is, it’s someone trying to make things better. Get off your sofa, get something you want to see going instead and then you get to moan you don’t like what these people have done. Go on, then, off you go!

    • Well said Laura, too much unnecessary and bitter comments. A building returns to use with income going to local CiC together with promoting comedy and other events

        • That’s good to know, but this space can be for people who don’t want to always watch TV you know? If this isn’t your thing, fair enough, I’m not keen on drinking but I don’t mind if other people like a night in a pub – still rather the pub was being used than standing empty!

  9. What a great initiative. I know Heidi, Genevieve and many others have worked very hard to get the venue ready. Good luck with the venue.

  10. Well done you! This is exciting can’t wait to see wat comes of it. Breathe some life back into Ramsgate -maybe cheer up the grumpy so and sos living there (juging by the comments!

    Best of luck to you

    • Jane, this sounds like desperation. There has always been life in Ramsgate with decent shops and the like. Alas, online trading has hit the high streets hard.
      Turning an empty retail space into a Ramsgate’s Got Talent show is not what we need. People would rather watch this sort of thing on the telly.

      • Is there not a little irony in blaming people staying at home for the decline in shops, and then saying you’ll be staying at home, not joining in? You’re welcome of course to watch what you like on TV, but live gigs and live events are right up other people’s street, shopping or otherwise, and you seem to forget that the site is also offering events and activities for children and young people to get out, learn new skills, exercise and have fun? Sure, you’re not going to take part in a kid’s gymnastic or dance class, but are you really saying that you don’t want the kids to do it too? There’s a performance space upstairs for adult events, a big space downstairs for kid’s classes, space for a cafe, offices for small businesses to rent – I just don’t get why you’re so down on this empty space being used, rather than staying empty and falling into disrepair?

        • No irony, at all. What I do at home is not the issue here as I was talking about people generally.
          Because I do most of my shopping with Amazon does not mean I stay in all day and because I watch TV like most people does not mean I do not go out.
          I would guess that attending gigs is a minority interest, just as watching football matches is. Both being noisy affairs.
          What is proposed for the empty retail space in Ramsgate’s High Street is inappropriate and doomed to failure as such.

  11. I still don’t see why you’re so against this – it’s a space which will mostly be used for young people to learn new skills, gain confidence and have fun. It’s a space where anyone could run an evening’s events for adults, and it’s a place where small businesses can get low cost office spaces. The alternative is a derelict shop, as clearly no other big company wanted to rent it, or they would have. It’s opposite a pub, and there are few people living near by, so not many people tpo be disrupted by noise, noise which is already part of the hightstreet at night. I don’t care about football either, but I have no problem with youn gpeople joining youth teams and Saturday matches, better people do that than hang about, bored. Sure, this is a space you don’t feel you’ll personally use, but would you really rather it was an empty, rotting old shop, covered in graffiti? Could you not at least reframe your response to giving them a chance to try, when no one else is?

    • It is all a load of wishful-thinking arty-farty nonsense. I live in the real world whereas you live in cloud-cuckoo-land. As I said earlier, this is desperation on your part.
      Simon Cowell says it will fail. It’s a NO from him.

      • Ahh well, your real works sounds rather lonely and negative, which is a bit of a shame really. I’d rather give kids something positive to do , rather than hanging about and getting into trouble, but then as this space is going to open for them, I’ll guess we’ll see! I’m sorry life has made you feel like this, but perhaps something will come along you can get behind. What would you like the space to be used for?

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