Government cash is ‘vital lifeline’ for North Devon’s theatres and arts sector

The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. Picture: Alamy/ Chris Harris

The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. Picture: Alamy/ Chris Harris - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

North Devon’s arts sector has received a boost of almost £700,000 including more than half a million pounds for the region’s two main theatres.

As part of the Government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund, £553,086 has been granted to the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, which are run by Selladoor Worldwide on behalf of North Devon Council.

There is also £80,484 for The Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington and £58,330 for the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, plus Devon-wide music charity Wren Music will receive £60,000.

With live shows to large crowds all but impossible under coronavirus restrictions, the arts sector has been hit hard, with The Plough and both North Devon theatres closed since lockdown.

As well as hardship for the venues and their staff, it also meant no work for the hundreds and thousands of musicians and performers locally and across the country.

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The money is intended to ensure the venues will survive and be able to reopen again.

David Hutchinson CEO of Selladoor said: “We are delighted and very grateful to receive support from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

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“The last seven months have been nothing short of devastating, both for our company and our industry as a whole. We have lost eight productions, as well as many of our team members, as we have tried to sustain a business with zero income.

“This financial lifeline allows us time to reimagine and restructure the business, so that we can be ready and able to help bring our sector back to life post Covid-19.

“There is a long way to go, but this grant gives our company a fighting chance of recovery.

“In turn, we fully intend to do everything that we can to support our venue partners, fellow organisations and all of fantastic professionals who work in our industry, so that can all move forward in our joint journey towards getting the arts back in business.”

North Devon MP, Selaine Saxby said: “I am delighted with this support from the Government for our two theatres in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe, which I have been championing at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

“The team at Selladoor have worked tirelessly to secure the future of our two, much loved theatres here in North Devon.

“I am also pleased to see additional support coming for our museums through North Devon Council’s application. These cultural assets are vital to our tourism offering as well as being much enjoyed by local residents and providing educational benefits to school students.

“I very much hope as these venues get through this difficult period, we support them as much as we can.”

Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox added: “It is extremely positive news that The Plough Arts Centre will benefit from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund.

“I have campaigned and repeatedly spoken to ministers in recent months to convince them of the need to support local community arts organisations like The Plough and I am pleased that the Government has responded by investing £257m in 1,385 music venues, theatres, museums and galleries throughout the country.

“The Plough is a vital artistic venue in our rural area, it is largely self-supporting and works hard to be at the heart of the life of Great Torrington and the surrounding rural communities. I hope its staff, volunteers and our local communities will be heartened by this news.”

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