Recently we have begun talks with West Berkshire Council which could lead to the ownership of the beautiful landmark building being transferred to us; the Corn Exchange Trust.
The building is currently owned by West Berkshire Council but as an independent charitable organisation we have been running and managing the facility since 2000. Over that time we have increased audience and participation figures to over 120,000 every year and we believe transferring the ownership of the building to us will help ensure our sustainability and protect cultural activity at the Corn Exchange for future generations.
Our talks with the Council are at an early stage but we have been informed that a decision will be made by the end of 2017. Importantly the process will include a period of public consultation whereby we’ll be able to explain the positive impact the asset transfer will have for our organisation and will give local people a chance to have their say.
If successful this move will be of huge benefit to us, but importantly it also demonstrates the Council’s support for culture in West Berkshire at a time when it has had to reduce its financial commitments. In March, West Berkshire Council informed us that once again, they had to reduce funding for the Corn Exchange by £78,000. That means over a three year period our funding will have reduced by 55%.
Our Co-Directors, Katy Griffiths and Grant Brisland, told the press today 'we do understand that West Berkshire Council has to make difficult choices, but it remains very hard for a small charitable arts organisation like the Corn Exchange to manage a cut at this level at short notice. We will be renewing our fundraising efforts and remain focused on our long-term plans and future sustainability.'
They continued 'as we look to safeguard the Corn Exchange’s future in a climate of continued funding reductions, we have asked West Berkshire Council to consider transferring the ownership of the Corn Exchange building to the Trust. We understand that ongoing annual funding is going to be a huge challenge for West Berkshire Council and our proposal offers a solution that reduces their liability whilst ensuring that the Corn Exchange’s creative offer in the district will continue to thrive.'
Speaking on behalf of West Berkshire Council, Culture and Libraries Manager Paul James said: 'The Corn Exchange is a local organisation with a national reputation. We are proud to have them in the district and want to support them where we can. Over the past two years it has been increasingly hard for us to provide financial support because of an increasing demand for our services and particularly social care for our most vulnerable residents. We have to balance competing needs for our resources and we believe transferring the ownership of the Corn Exchange will help the Trust in the long term.
We’re grateful to the Corn Exchange for understanding the difficult position we find ourselves in and look forward to continue working with them in the coming years.'
In order to manage the funding gap, today we have launched our fundraising campaign Love Your Corn Exchange. Given that the Council’s funding specifically supports the Corn Exchange we must, as a small arts charity, urgently raise £25,000 to manage this reduction. A donation of £10* will be matched pound-for-pound by Arts Council England and you can donate by:
- Phoning our Box Office on 0845 5218 218**
- Giving online at www.cornexchangenew.com/donate
- Texting CORN15 £10 to 70070 or
- Sending a cheque made payable to Corn Exchange (Trust) to Love Your Corn Exchange, Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD
Last year the campaign raised over £12,000 in six weeks. This was a vital lifeline for the Corn Exchange to continue the range of activities and services delivered for the community of West Berkshire.
Help us today and by working together you will be helping the Corn Exchange to continue making a positive impact in your community.
For more information about the funding cut and the Love Your Corn Exchange appeal please click here.
*£10 is a suggested donation. Simply amend the denomination to donate more or less
**Calls will cost 2p per minute plus your telephone company's access charge