THE Corn Exchange will mark its 25th anniversary later this year by taking ownership of its landmark building to become a “truly independent charity”.
West Berkshire Council has handed over the Market Place building to the Corn Exchange Trust to help ensure arts and culture in the district are protected and nurtured for future generations.
Against a backdrop of continuing reductions in public spending, the council informed theCorn Exchange Trust in July 2016 that it was no longer in a position to financially support the arts centre when the current funding contract ends March 2019.
The trust has since been working with the council and its core funders, Arts Council England and Greenham Trust, to ensure the future of the Corn Exchange.
Director Grant Brisland said: “Passing the ownership of the building to the trust was one of our suggestions to set us off on the right path and we are pleased that the council has agreed to support us in this way.
“It enables us to be a truly independent charity and it is my responsibility as the custodian of this wonderful building to ensure the arts and cultural activities we make happen here are protected for future generations.”
Mr Brisland said the Corn Exchange is already responsible for the vast majority of its operational upkeep and maintenance.
Culture and libraries manager at West Berkshire Council Paul James reinforced the council’s commitment to ensure the sustainability of culture and the arts in the district, adding that they were “integral” to the community.
He said: “Over the last 20 years, the council has invested more than £8m of revenue funding and £2m of capital investment in the Corn Exchange and we are delighted at the way the trust has gone from strength to strength in delivering a first-class arts service for local people.
“However, in recent years, councils all over the country have had to make tough financial choices and, sadly, this means that we are no longer in a position to continue to provide funding to the Corn Exchange after March 2019.”
West Berkshire Council and the Corn Exchange are inviting people to hear more about the transfer of the building at a special event on Wednesday, April 18, at 6pm at the Corn Exchange.
Admission is free and tickets are available online at www.cornexchangenew.com or via the box office on 0845 5218218.