WEST Berkshire Council and The Corn Exchange Trust have begun talks which could lead to ownership of the landmark Newbury building being transferred to the Trust.
The discussions come just weeks after the cash-strapped local authority said it would be reducing annual funding to the Corn Exchange by £78,000.
Co-director at the Corn Exchange Grant Brisland said the trust had asked West Berkshire Council to consider transferring the ownership of the building to the Trust in an attempt to safeguard its future in a climate of continued funding reductions.
Mr Brisland added: “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.”
The performing arts venue is owned by West Berkshire Council but has been run by the Trust since the year 2000.
The council will continue to provide annual funding of £174,000 until 2018/19.
A decision on the future of the building will be made by the end of 2017 and will include a period of public consultation to give local people a chance to have their say.
Speaking on behalf of West Berkshire Council, Culture and Libraries Manager Paul James said: “We are 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.”
The Corn Exchange, recently announced a partnership with Greenham Common Trust to develop a new visual arts and crafts facility at Greenham Business Park, and the launch of a new Learning Centre in Market Place.