The first major step towards creating a new trust to manage the museums and theatres in North Devon has been taken. The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon will now be managed by the North Devon Theatres' Trust, a not-for-profit company. Both the main

THE first major step towards creating a new trust to manage the museums and theatres in North Devon has been taken.The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon will now be managed by the North Devon Theatres' Trust, a not-for-profit company.Both the main theatres in North Devon are currently run by the independent trust, which North Devon Council supports through an annual grant. Until now, the museum has been managed directly by the council and its staff. The theatres and museums are some of the council's top performing services and customer satisfaction with them is among the best in the country. This move to create a larger trust will help the services attract greater funding from organisations such as the Arts Council of England.It will improve opportunities to link work the theatres are doing with exhibitions or educational programmes the museum is running and will help attract a wider range of acts and exhibitions to North Devon.Councillor Dave Butt, Lead Member for Cultural Services (Youth and Diversity), said: "It has been one of our long term objectives to bring these two high quality services together, in a way that will enhance our already high reputation and will allow us to attract high quality events as well as gain access to wider funding opportunities."I am proud of the success of our arts provision that not only supports our vital tourist trade but adds to the quality of life for all of our North Devon residents."Jerry Lee, Culture and Regeneration Manager, says: "This is a great opportunity to bring together two of the Council's top performing services in order to create a high quality regional organisation that will have an even greater local impact"Alan Giddings, Chief Executive of North Devon Theatres, says: "We have worked well with The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon on many projects over the years and I'm delighted that the arrangement is being formalised. We look forward to developing some fascinating projects with the Museums service during the next few years that will be enjoyed by the people of North Devon as well as by visitors to the region."The museum's curator will continue to offer support and advice to the other community-run museums in the area.