An emergency funding lifeline has been given to three North Devon’s independent culture organisations that have brought joy to so many.

The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington has been closed since March. Picture: Plough ArtsThe Plough Arts Centre in Torrington has been closed since March. Picture: Plough Arts

The Arts Council has announced an £8.4million package through its Covid-19 emergency fund to help cultural companies, charities groups.

The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington has been awarded £35,000, with £16,345 going to Bideford-based Red Herring Productions and £15,282 to Ilfracombe Museum.

A grant of £32,048 has also been awarded to Wren Music, which runs projects throughout the region.

Plough director Richard Wolfenden-Brown said the charity was relieved to receive the emergency funding, which was mainly to cover Covid-related losses, mostly the printing and distribution of programmes, which happened just before lockdown.

Oystercatchers at Westward Ho!  by Red Herring Productions. Picture: Jim WilemanOystercatchers at Westward Ho! by Red Herring Productions. Picture: Jim Wileman

He added: “It will also contribute towards the ongoing costs of maintaining the building throughout this period, costs which continue despite the venue being closed.

“The Arts Council England funding was also made available to enable us to continue to support local freelance artists via a range of online arts projects that will help us to keep in touch with our participants and audiences whilst the building remains closed.”

Red Herring Productions is an outdoor arts company that provides fun, interactive performances, with the aim of bringing people together to experience familiar places in unfamiliar ways.

Examples included its Stepping out project last year, which helped North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty mark its 60th anniversary at locations in Bideford, Barnstaple, Northam Burrows and Braunton Burrows.

Ilfracombe Museum has recived more tha £15,000 in Arts Council emergency Covid funding.Ilfracombe Museum has recived more tha £15,000 in Arts Council emergency Covid funding.

Fiona Fraser-Smith from Red Herring said with funding from The National Lottery, the Arts Council funding them the opportunity to continue to develop their work and the company over the next six months.

She said: “Although all our activities for this year were cancelled in March, during these unusual times of social distancing, this new funding enables us to share some of our ideas and our work online. Over the coming months, using mainly Facebook and Instagram, we will create and share a series of short videos and sound recordings.”

Ilfracombe Museum chairman of trustees Nick Mollart said the funding had been a massive help. He said: “Being an independent museum, we depend largely on earned income through admission fees, donations, shop sales, events and activities.

“Because of the seasonal nature of Ilfracombe’s economy, we expect to lose 70 per cent of our annual income from March to August. In effect, we will have to endure three consecutive off-season income periods before, hopefully, generating sufficient recovery funds in spring and summer 2021.

“Funding will allow us to address our immediate overheads and essential regular maintenance and concentrate on engaging with the community and re-positioning the museum as a place of creativity, inspiration, education and wellbeing which is so important at this time.”

The museum hopes to continue to work with North Devon Council and local groups, as well as widening its involvement in the community, to engage more children and families.