North Devon theatres, festival and cinema receive huge funding boost

David Hutchinson, Chief Executive, North Devon Theatres and North Devon MP Selaine Saxby at the opening of Beggars Opera

David Hutchinson, Chief Executive, North Devon Theatres and North Devon MP Selaine Saxby at the opening of Beggars Opera at the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple - Credit: David Hoare

North Devon Theatres, Oceanfest and the Embassy Cinema in Ilfracombe have received a huge funding boost from the Government’s £407 million Culture Recovery Fund. 

Croyde music festival Oceanfest has been awarded £127,475 and the Embassy Cinema got £34,486. 

North Devon Theatres runs two theatres, the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. North Devon has been placed in category one of the Government's Levelling Up index. 

The Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple.

The Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple. - Credit: Archant

These two theatres serve a 419-mile radius and this funding will allow them to widen participation by offering placements on pantomime productions for students across all back stage disciplines as part of their new partnership with Petroc Performing Arts. 

Hundreds of arts, heritage and cultural organisations across England will receive a share of £107 million from the additional £300 million announced by the Chancellor at March’s budget for the Culture Recovery Fund, bringing the total cash support package made available for culture during the pandemic to close to £2 billion. 

The Culture Recovery Fund has already got £1.2 billion out the door to around 5,000 organisations and sites across the country and this latest round of funding is giving a lifeline to regional theatres, local museums, independent cinemas and many more throughout the winter. 

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

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

£13.3 million in continuity support grants will be awarded to 105 previous Culture Recovery Fund recipients in the south west, administered by Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Helping organisations survive and allowing them to resume programmes and events, the funding will mean people can get back to enjoying everything they have to offer. 

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Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries said: “Culture is for everyone and should therefore be accessible to everyone, no matter who they are and where they’re from. 

“Through unprecedented government financial support, the Culture Recovery Fund is supporting arts and cultural organisations so they can continue to bring culture to communities the length and breadth of the country, supporting jobs, boosting local economies and inspiring people.” 

The Embassy Cinema will host the first ever Ilfracombe Film Festival.

The Embassy Cinema will host the first ever Ilfracombe Film Festival. - Credit: Archant

Selaine Saxby, Member of Parliament for North Devon said: “I am delighted that Arts Council England are fully backing our theatres in North Devon. As we build back better it is vital that we have an all-year-round cultural offer for tourists and residents alike. I am encouraged that our local councils are putting together a Cultural Strategy for the area and look forward to supporting further investment in North Devon. 

“There was a lot of work behind the scenes to get this and particularly the last round of funding for our theatres where I met with the Minister and Arts Council England to work out the problems. It was good to see that both Oceanfest and the Embassy Cinema in Ilfracombe have also continued to receive financial support.” 

David Hutchinson, Chief Executive, North Devon Theatres: “North Devon Theatres has been through a transformative three years since we took them on in 2019, despite the pandemic. The creative potential in this area of Devon is huge, but the challenges are also very real – with some of the highest levels of deprivation, and some of the most remote communities in England that our two theatres, the Landmark and Queens Theatre, serve – with poor infrastructure and access to culture.  

“What this award from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund does is commend and support our ambitious restructuring and business planning to transform these buildings into vital place-makers in their communities, and our program of Made in Devon work – including launching major productions that are first seen in North Devon – but touring nationally and internationally, with widening participation programs and talent pathway. 

“This award through the Culture Recovery Fund is a huge vote of confidence in a historically underfunded part of England – and we’re delighted to be looking to the future and developing the cultural capital in North Devon.” 

Goldcoast Oceanfest, Croyde, North Devon. Picture: Goldcoast Oceanfest/Gordon Dryburgh

Goldcoast Oceanfest, Croyde, North Devon. Picture: Goldcoast Oceanfest/Gordon Dryburgh - Credit: Gordon Dryburgh

In addition to this, twelve organisations in the south west have been awarded grants from the Emergency Resource Support strand of funding so far, with 9 supported for the first time, and more applications undergoing assessment over the coming weeks. Looking to help those facing imminent risks, grants from this rolling programme are protecting jobs by saving important arts and cultural organisations. 

Providing access to emergency funding throughout the winter period, the Emergency Resource Support programme will be reopened. This will give more applicants at imminent risk of financial failure an opportunity to bid for support, protecting even more organisations so that they can continue to create jobs and contribute to the economy. The application window will reopen soon.

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