A young performers group has backed the campaign to restore St Ives Corn Exchange into an entertainment venue. Phillip Cooke, chairman of St Ives Youth Theatre, said: The Corn Exchange was always intended to be a focus for the local community – that mea

The Corn Exchange is the venue for a rehearsal for a concert, circa 1914. The large proportion of women in the photograph could suggest a date during the First World War.

A young performers' group has backed the campaign to restore St Ives Corn Exchange into an entertainment venue.

Phillip Cooke, chairman of St Ives Youth Theatre, said: "The Corn Exchange was always intended to be a focus for the local community - that means giving back as well as taking, and we are committed to making a rigorous contribution to keep the Corn Exchange as a vital community centre for St Ives and the area."

St Ives Town Council, which owns the disused building, had wanted to sell it but after a campaign by Action Corn Exchange (ACE), protesters were given four months to devise a rescue package. ACE must report to the town council next month, but will exhibit some plans for the venue this week.

Mr Cooke said he understood the town council's financial predicament when it came to the restoration and running of the facility.

"The town council is quite right in being careful not to mortgage future generations by an imprudent short-term financial fix to keep the Corn Exchange open," he said. "That said, they must give ACE more time and encourage the application of lateral thinking and creative solutions, because St Ives must not lose the Corn Exchange."

Mr Cooke said despite St Ives Youth Theatre's national reputation, it has no permanent home or rehearsal and performance space. "The Corn Exchange is indispensable, the town council must realise a St Ives without the Corn Exchange is unthinkable."

INFORMATION: Exhibition at the Free Church on Friday between 10am and 6pm and on Saturday between 10am and 4pm. See www.thecornexchange.org.uk or www.stivesyouththeatre.co.uk for more details.