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HONITON: Charity status for gallery

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


Honiton’s famous Thelma Hulbert Gallery is to be transferred to charitable trust status in order to help it secure future funding, writes JACK?DIXON. The gallery, currently managed by East Devon District Council, will be switched to the LED Leisure Trust, enabling it to apply for grant funding available to charities. EDDC will continue to back the gallery, which was awarded the prestigious Rose Mark for services to tourism recently, but will greatly reduce its financial support package. And Honiton’s representatives on the district authority are confident that the reorganisation is the most sensible move for all parties. Councillor John O’Leary, who has long campaigned for the future security of Honiton’s landmark attraction, said: “I have long said the best way forward for the gallery is to become a trust – it is far easier to apply for grants this way. “The gallery can still function with a reduced support package and we must keep the quality of the exhibitions there. I am certain this is the best way to go for the gallery to survive.” Speaking at the recent EDDC cabinet meeting, council leader Paul Diviani said the gallery had a “management problem” and that it could risk the council’s reputation if it were continue in the same way. And the premier arts centre was told earlier this year it must reduce its reliance on local authority funding with plans to spread arts funding more evenly across the district. Since then the gallery has submitted a business plan for a more efficient system of management and the transition to trust status is now ready to be finalised. Councillor Mike Allen, district council ward member for Honiton St Michael’s, also welcomed the decision but said the town council’s “cultural approach” must not be damaged. He said: “We have to remember that in one sense Honiton Town Council has been deliberately aiming to build a cultural approach and the Thelma Hulbert Gallery has been a part of that approach. “Along with the activities at the Beehive, we do not want to damage the cultural approach to Honiton and risk being seen only as somewhere people come to buy antiques. “I look forward to a much better result than we have had before.” After presenting the business plan to EDDC earlier this year, Fiona Page-Turner, the gallery’s Director of Marketing and Fundraising, said the new status would enable the team to expand their exhibition and learning programmes.

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