Thelma Hulbert Gallery to be transferred to a trust

PUBLISHED: 15:39 13 June 2014

The award winning Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton looks set to be transferred to a trust in a bid to reduce its reliance on local authority funding and ‘protect and enhance’ services.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet last week agreed in principle to transfer the Dowell Street gallery to the LED Leisure Trust - the charitable trust that runs all the council’s leisure facilities.

A spokeswoman for the district council said: “The transfer will take place subject to successful grant applications which means the gallery can still function with a reduced financial package from the council and satisfactory detailed transfer arrangements being agreed between the council and LED Leisure. Transfer to a trust is designed to protect and enhance those services.

“LED’s ambition to support and embrace the local wider cultural offer in addition to the traditional leisure services fits in well with what the gallery aims to achieve. Indeed, previous reports have highlighted the important community work the gallery does and particularly the educational work which encourages hard-to-reach sections of the community. We are confident that the strategic vision of the trust, together with the combined skills of the trustees and the chief executive will secure continued success.”

Speaking about the decision during a meeting of Honiton Town Council on Monday night district councillor John O’Leary said it was thought to be ‘the best way to go for the gallery to survive’.

Cllr O’Leary told the town council back in April they were looking at options to reduce the gallery’s reliance on local authority funding and that its net expenditure was £129,000 a year.

Previously, Axminster’s deputy mayor Douglas Hull had called on his East Devon District Council colleagues to consider selling the gallery and using the cash to support the area’s struggling TICs.

Cllr Hull, the vice-chairman of EDDC’s Arts and Culture Forum, previously told the Herald: “The gallery does lots of good things, but I would say that if they can’t get things sorted out the building should be sold and the money used to create a website promoting arts and culture in East Devon and to help the struggling tourist information centres.”

This year the Thelma Hulbert Gallery was presented with Visit England’s rose mark award in recognition of its services to tourism.

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