THIS weekend Clitheroe Grand marks its third anniversary. We look back at the past three years which have seen the former Cinema become a leading live music venue of the North West.

In 2008 the former Grand Cinema was transformed into a music and arts centre in a £3million refit.

Owned by The Lancaster Foundation, its aim was to provide educational and healthcare services to the local community.

But now the York Street complex has surpassed all expectations by gaining a reputation among international music fans and big named artists ranking it as a top north west entertainment venue.

Owner and director Steven Lancaster said: “Our aim through the provision of this state of the art venue, was to create a social place at the heart of the community, with the potential to do great things with it.

“Our strap line ‘innovate, create, educate and elevate’ is about giving individuals a space to develop aspire and dream.

“It’s about showcasing local talent as well as attracting seasoned and renowned artists which we feel we have done.”

The venue, which has just 20 permanent members of staff, has seen visits from M People’s Heather Small, soul star Ruby Turner, From The Jam’s Bruce Foxton, former Alarm guitarist Dave Sharp and ex-Inspiral Carpets singer Tom Hingley.

Deborah, sister of Led Zeppelin drummer John, said: “I am over the moon to be invited to perform in Clitheroe.

"I’ve heard so much about what fantastic venue The Grand is and the kind of calibre that many major cities would be only too pleased to have.”

The anniversary also marks a successful year for The Grand, with its busiest programme of events set for 2011.

As well as the first Rock and Blues Weekender event this year’s highlights include the Ribble Valley Jazz Festival, monthly soul Sunday lunches, weekly come dancing ballroom classes and regular band nights showcasing homegrown new and unsigned bands.

Youth activities include Energy Club night for 12-16 year-olds, which has seen as many as 400 young people attending each event, and brand new drama school Backstage Pass, every saturday morning.

The Grand, which was brought back from demolition by local residents, boats a 350-seat live music theatre, internet cafe, rehearsal rooms, a restaurant and a top-of-the-range recording studio with all the latest equipment.

Events manager Matthew Evans added: “It takes time to build audiences and with that comes a reputation.

"In the past year we have seen more and more people attracted to our expanding programme of events which as been an exciting development.”