There has been a heart-warming response from the people of Great Torrington and North Devon after news The Plough Arts Centre was threatened with closure.

An online crowdfunder to urgently raise £30,000 to plug an immediate gap in the struggling theatre's finances has already raised almost £8,000.

The Plough announced on Friday, January 31 that it was facing major financial difficulties following a dramatic rise in costs and a reduction in funding, despite the highest audience figures in its 45 year history.

Plough director Richard Wolfenden Brown said the appeal for help had generated 'a heart-warming response' to raise almost £7,500 in four days, together with a flood of comments in support of the venue.

He said: "Local artists have donated work for a high value charity auction on March 6 (during the interval of an event with Jethro) and other offers of help and auction prizes are flooding in.

"We have also had other donations of £1,500 via our box office so progress is fast.

"Artists who have performed at The Plough have got involved and sent messages of support, including Shappi Khorsandi, Al Murray and Steve Harley."

Mr Wolfenden Brown said the £30,000 target would stabilise the financial situation at The Plough but it would need a promise of future support towards its costs for the building, so a balanced budget could be set for the new financial year in April.

There are meetings planned with Torridge District Council as well as Torrington Town Council, as well as negotiations with Devon County Council and the Town Lands Alms Charity, which owns the Plough building, as well as the Arts Council.

Mr Wolfenden Brown added: "We are cautiously optimistic that a solution will be found, but nothing is certain at this moment.

"In reality it is for others to decide if North Devon should continue to have a multi-purpose arts centre, delivering a nationally respected arts and community programme, from its base in Great Torrington.

"We hope they make their decisions after careful consideration of the powerful cultural, social and economic impact generated locally and regionally by The Plough Arts Centre."

Great Torrington mayor Keeley Allin said The Plough was a vital asset to the town that brought in so many visitors by providing such a range of activities.

She said: "You always know when something is going on in The Plough as the car park is full and the town is buzzing.

"We are extremely lucky to have The Plough and for a relatively small town, to have a cinema facility is just brilliant.

"It would be just dreadful to see them close so I urge everyone to help out in any way they can.

"It has been great to see the support that The Plough has received since putting out the news, I hope this continues and we all appreciate the great asset that it is."

If you'd like to support the Power the Plough appeal, go to https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/power-the-plough .