The director of the North Devon Theatres Trust (NDTT) has called on local thespians to help sustain the area’s theatres as austerity begins to bite.

The charity faces ‘huge challenges’ as funding from North Devon and Torridge District councils continues to be slashed, said Alan Dodd.

But Mr Dodd is staying positive about the future of theatre in North Devon.

“It is a massive challenge and it’s now the lowest amount in subsidy we’ve ever received in the history of the organisation,” he said.

“But we are creative and resourceful and we’ve got to get on with it.

“We are a charity but we’ve never really pushed that in the past. I think now more than ever we want that emotional connection with the public to encourage people to support the prime arts provider in North Devon.”

The trust, a not-for-profit charity, now has an agreement in place with North Devon Council to run the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark in Ilfracombe until 2018.

The theatres have seen a gradual increase in visitors over the last three years, rising to 86,103 tickets sold in total last year.

A further 22,268 took part in NDTT’s education programme.

The charity turned over £2million in 2014/15 – about 75 per cent of that coming from earned income.

“We could moan and groan that we have lost money, but what’s the point?” said Mr Dodd. “We have got to be proactive and we’ll try our hardest to deliver and make things work.

“We balanced the books in 2014/15 and will rise to the challenge this year. We have fabulous staff and have also increased the number of volunteers working for us.

“The focus is making more and more people aware of what we are – a charity – as well as what we put on at the theatres.”