Thursday, October 20, 2005

David Hall Arts Centre to close?

We had this information come in this evening about the David Hall Arts Centre in South Petherton.


Over 380 letters of petition asking South Somerset District Council to re-think its decision to cut all funding to The David Hall Arts Centre in South Petherton are being handed over tonight (Thursday, 20th October) to a full meeting of the Council.

Supporters of The David Hall have also sent letters directly to SSDC and all will be considered at a future meeting. The District Council's annual contribution of £10,477 per annum is the Hall's only source of public funding and represents almost half of its essential running costs. The grant will be withdrawn after April 2006 and this loss of income means that the future of The David Hall's is in peril. Cliff Keating, Chairman of Petherton Arts Trust (PAT), which owns and runs the Grade II listed building in the centre of South Petherton, said that the Trustees, staff and volunteers were all delighted with the support they are receiving to encourage the SSDC to change its mind. "Our hope is that the Council will now rethink its stance and continue to fund us as before. At worst, we hope for a reduction in revenue, rather than no grant at all," he explained.

The organisation put out an appeal for help in petitioning the Council as soon as news of the cut was announced in June. This was followed by an Open Day and Public Meeting at the Hall in July, when numerous individuals came forward with offers of assistance - including fundraising ideas and practical help. Some of the Hall's best known performers - including Phil Beer of Show of Hands fame, and acoustic guitarist Gordon Giltrap - also offered support via fundraising gigs."If the SSDC withdraws all its funding we shall have to find another £10,500 each year on top of the £250,000-plus we need to find to refurbish the building. This would add a considerable burden to our abilities to raise funds - and not having the support of our District Council could be detrimental to our bids for contributions from other funding organisations," Mr Keating said. "It is our plan to become self-sufficient over the next few years but if the SSDC withdraws its full annual grant next April, it may well mean that the Hall will have to close."

PAT has also provided relevant officers at SSDC with copies of its Business Plan. This details the Trust's vision for the future of The David Hall, and its plan of action to raise the money needed to refurbish the building. Meanwhile, with the current season's events underway, PAT is busy putting together a new programme, to run from January to the end of April 2006. "Although The David Hall is particularly well known for its folk/roots/world-music events - which are the envy of many larger venues - we are scheduling a varied and extensive spring programme, offering something for everyone interested in the performing arts," said Mr Keating.

Event details can be obtained by phoning 01460 240 340 or by visiting

The Editor

No comments: