Torridge District Council has committed to supporting the Burton at Bideford with a £700,000 funding package.

The council’s community and resources committee agreed to renew a service and funding agreement with the gallery and museum when it met on Monday, September 7.

The five-year agreement will see the council provide £140,000 a year for the Burton to look after the council asset and deliver cultural services – a 17.5 per cent decrease on the current financial package, which was agreed in 2016.

In a joint statement, the Burton at Bideford’s director Ian Danby and chair Judith Gentry said: “We were delighted with the unanimous vote from the community and resources committee which approved the renewal of the service and funding agreement for the Burton at Bideford.

“Our team at the Burton and the trustees have worked hard to deliver a world class programme over the last five years and we are thrilled that this has been recognised by members and officers of Torridge District Council.”

When asked to consider a new deal to follow on from the original agreement in 2016, councillors heard how footfall had grown to more than 200,000 visitors a year.

As well as holding temporary and permanent exhibitions, the Burton has also developed an outreach programme as well as online projects.

It reopened after the coronavirus lockdown on July 4, and is able to open seven days a week.

It has recently acquired major exhibition ‘An English Eye’ by renowned artist-photographer James Ravilious to add to its permanent collections.

The collection is an important historic record of life in North Devon between 1972 and 1997. Including 135 pictures, the collection will be on display at the Burton in 2021 as part of their exhibition programme.

Councillor Peter Christie said: “The Burton represents the jewel in Bideford and Torridge’s cultural offering. It has a national standing and clearly attracts both locals and tourists because of it’s excellent reputation.

“It provides a focal point within the town and is the only wet weather attraction that is open all year round. It is an important exhibition space for the many artists in Torridge as well as being a marvellous display space for the council’s cultural and historic artefacts.

“I am more than happy to support the continuation of our agreement with the Burton at Bideford.”