Arts centre is struck from funding budget

Keith Mitchell - Chair of the management committee and Georgia Geary - manager of The Mill

Keith Mitchell - Chair of the management committee and Georgia Geary - manager of The Mill

The management of Banbury’s Mill Arts Centre is remaining ‘positive’ about its future despite a decision that will see it lose all Oxfordshire County Council funding.

The county council’s budget proposals, which were released last Friday, revealed that in 2017 it is looking to withdraw the arts centre’s remaining £80,000 annual grant.

The saving forms part of the new sum of £64 million the council is estimating it needs to save over the next five years because of Government cash cuts.

Keith Mitchell, former leader of the county council and now chairman of The Mill Executive Committee, said: “It’s nice to have some certainty, so it’s good news because we know where we stand.

“Instead of having to worry about whether or not the grant is going to come in each year we know it will end in 2017 and we now have three years to come up with how we’re going to fill the £80,000 gap.

“It’s tough, but during these three years we’ll be looking at different ideas to make the business work.

“We need to grow what we’ve got. We’ve got a great building and we just need to find new ways of attracting people, so we’re very positive.”

From January next year a new feature at the centre will be regular film screenings and the management is also looking at potentially getting businesses on board to sponsor individual rooms at the venue.

County councillor Lorraine Lindsay Gale said: “The Mill Arts Centre already raises a substantial level of income and is working towards complete financial independence. We will be working closely with it over the next three years to ensure that it achieves its goal and will no longer require funding from the county council.”

The building is owned by the council but Mr Mitchell said there is no suggestion it will start charging rent after 2017. He said: “We have a very good relationship with the council but it simply can’t afford paying us a huge grant each year.”




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