BLACKHEATH Conservatoire has been saved from immediate closure after raising £200,000 in just six weeks following a community appeal.

The venue, which has been in existence for 132 years teaching art, music and drama, needed to raise £175,000 - including £75,000 in public donations - or it would have shut its doors at the end of February.

However, there are still challenges ahead as it is trying to secure refinancing from the bank for its existing debt, which the venue's runners hope will enable them kick start a new business plan and ensure its future.

Money raised by the community is being held in a secure account until that refinancing is finalised.

Chief executive Sydney Thornbury said: "The community response has been simply amazing.

"We’re not out of the woods yet, but our fundraising success has sent such a strong signal to the bank that the picture is so much more positive. 

"We have an extraordinary future ahead with our new business model, and we are grateful to the community for all of its efforts."

Last month, News Shopper reported how the institution, housed in Grade II-listed buildings on Lee Road, had been affected by the recession after pupil numbers began to decline.

Donations to the Conservatoire campaign ranged from a £25,000 pledge to £2 in pocket money from a nine-year-old supporter.

Schools, the Blackheath Society and community groups arranged bake sales and workshops to raise funds, while the venue itself put on a host of fundraising events.

To find out more about the campaign to keep it going, visit its website.