Statement from Durham County Council
A fundraising campaign to secure the future of an historic community arts centre has been given a £60,000 boost.
Bosses at the Witham, in Barnard Castle, launched the Investing in the Witham campaign in August with the aim of raising £150,000 by the end of the year. Now the council and county councillors from the town have shown their support for the initiative by agreeing to contribute almost half of the fundraising total - match-funding the amount raised by the community.
Durham County Council said "We will be contributing £35,000 with the remaining cash coming from the neighbourhood budgets of Cllr Richard Bell, Cllr Ted Henderson, Cllr George Richardson, Cllr James Rowlandson, Cllr Stephen Hugill and Cllr Heather Smith. The members' contributions will be distributed through Teesdale AAP. We will also be working closely with the Witham's board of trustees, staff and volunteers to ensure the centre is sustainable in the long-term."
Cllr Carl Marshall, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "The Witham is not only an important community facility, it is also an historic building with a rich heritage, so we are particularly pleased to be able to support it. The funding we are providing will support the centre over the next six months but, more crucially, we will be offering advice and guidance that we hope will help secure the Witham's future for the longer-term."
Bob Garton, Chair of the Witham Trustees, said: "The trustees are delighted to receive the news that Durham County Council has agreed to support the Witham. The decision came at a very critical point indeed for us and, together with the overwhelming support from the local community, means that the Witham is now in a strong enough position to move forward.
"Our particular thanks go to councillors who have jointly recognised that the Witham benefits the economy, the livelihoods and the wellbeing of people right across Teesdale."
Situated on Horse Market, the Witham is comprised of a collection of Grade II listed buildings dating back to 1846. As well as a former music hall, it features an art gallery, box office shop and café
In 2013, it was the subject of a £3.2 million regeneration project delivered by the council, the Witham Trustees and Barnard Castle Vision.