Torridge Full Council have voted to continue their funding of the Plough Arts Centre by reaffirming a community and resources (C&R) committee decision to pledge a further £30k in grants to the centre.

The money will be paid over the next three years and brings the total the council have provided since 2020 to £55k. The sum will supplement a £120k grant the plough recently secured in a bid to the Arts Council, which they will also receive each year for next three years.

In combination, the money should secure the future of the plough in the run up to their 50th year and golden anniversary celebrations in 2025. The £360k total from the Arts Council is linked to the Plough Arts Centre’s newly bestowed status as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).

At the previous C&R meeting the Plough’s General Manager, Trina Jones, revealed the centre’s latest plans and successes including their extensive outreach programme, which was relaunched after Covid restrictions were lifted. This included events and cultural activities across many different towns and wards in northern Devon, and an acknowledgement of the Plough’s importance in underpinning the cultural strategy for the area, alongside supporting emerging artists.

The Plough

Local businesses also benefit from the Plough’s “shop local” purchasing approach with around £50k spent with local suppliers each year on food and drink produce for its café and other events.

As a business the Plough initially struggled to return to pre Covid ticket sales of around £650k per year but the funding will support them while they implement their latest business plans, assisted by an army of volunteers from the local community and business sectors. Footfall at Plough-sponsored events was over 70,000 in the year prior to Covid.

There was vocal support from many members who spoke in praise of the Plough’s wide-ranging activities from theatre, music, cinema, art masterclasses and exhibitions, to workshops for adults with additional needs, social prescribing  and community events. Inca Lowson aged 14 and Arabella Knott aged 10 also spoke with passion in their supportive statements made at an internal scrutiny committee meeting.

Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin – Lead Member for Culture and Community Engagement said:

“We can clearly see that the Plough benefits people from all walks of life, all ages and all backgrounds, attracting people from across the region and beyond.

This has now been recognised nationally by the Arts Council England which has awarded them National Portfolio Organisation status.

I am so glad that Torridge is also showing their commitment to the great work that they do, through this allocation of regular core funding.

This continued support will also help the Plough when applying for future external grants where match funding is often a criteria.

I was pleased that councillors spoke in such support of the Plough and recognised the added value for money this will offer the district, helping us to meet our key strategic aims towards arts and culture, health and well-being, the economy, and vibrant town centres, as well as raising aspirations and inspiring our young people here in Torridge.”

This is great news; it would be so wonderful to have something like The Plough in Bude.