TROWBRIDGE’S iconic town hall is facing closure in just three months – unless the trust that runs it can find at least £35,000 a year.

Today the Wiltshire Times joins forces with Trowbridge Town Hall Trust, which formed after members of the community came together in 2011 to restore the town’s most historic building, in a campaign to help raise the vital cash.

The aim is to secure the town hall’s future and keep its doors open to the public, continuing as a valuable part of the town’s life for the 21st century and beyond.

The devastating news that Arts Council England has turned down the charity’s latest bid for funding, ironically partly because of the very success of the scheme, has left the Board of Trustees, all volunteers who have put their expertise to use to benefit Trowbridge, facing a dilemma.

Without core funding for the Market Street building, the trust cannot continue to operate.

The hall, which is home to 12 resident artists, more than 20 community groups and a number of local commercial organisations, all of which pay to use it, attracted more than 5,000 people through the doors in the last year alone.

But it still requires subsidising in order to continue to grow and achieve financial self-sufficiency.

The trustees have agreed the best way to find the £35,000 they need to enable the trust to survive for a further year is to approach local business and industry for help, and are hoping local firms will come forward with pledges covering the next three years’ core funding.

The trust is also looking for fundraisers to help.

They have adopted a ‘£35,00 to survive, £60,000 to thrive’ mantra, and are also appealing to the community through a Local Giving scheme which will allow the many people in Trowbridge who also hold the Town Hall close to their hearts to support the building.

“We have been very lucky in that ACE have over the years given us three significant grants, totalling nearly £300,000,” said Tracy Sullivan, Director of Town Hall Arts, whose professional staff plan and run activities in the Town Hall and lead the team of local volunteers whose hard work already supports the project. “Town Hall Arts is very grateful for the support it has had from ACE and recognises that there are many other worthy projects needing their support from limited resources.

“We are almost a victim of our own success, as we are no longer classed by ACE as a start-up, or an organisation running a specific project, as we have been in the past.

“And while Town Hall Arts continues to be supported by Wiltshire Council, who own this beautiful building, Trowbridge Town Council, who have backed us from the beginning, and other regional and national trust and foundations, and we now earn a significant amount of our own income - £75,000 In 2017 – without core funding we cannot continue.”

“The Trust is currently working hard with the staff and volunteers on a plan to allow us to stay open,” Colin Kay, chairman of the Board of Trustees added. “Our plans including cutting our costs, which will see our Director take a 20% pay cut and our dedicated and loyal staff go without the pay increase we had hoped to offer them.

“We have recently revised our lettings policy to make sure we are maximising revenue while sticking to our core aim of providing affordable arts and a venue for a community which has some very disadvantaged and vulnerable members.

“We have already successfully run projects which have introduced local people to aspects of the arts for the first time, as well as inspire those who already have a love of the arts and we want to continue to do that.

“We are also bearing in mind the fact that this Trust was not set up to run an arts centre in Trowbridge, but to bring back to life a wonderful building which otherwise could fall into disrepair and be lost forever. The Trust’s ultimate vision has always been to be in a position where we are financially stable and can apply for major capital funding, to enable us to restore the entire building, including the once magnificent ballroom, which would create a venue capable of holding major events again, right in the heart of the town.

“Over the last seven years, the Board has found that running this as a volunteer-led project is not viable, and that employing professional staff is key to its success. In the last 2 years, since first Trowbridge Arts and now Town Hall Arts, have been doing that, the annual earned income at the Hall has risen from £30,000 to £75,000 today.

“What we need now is for some of the town’s leading companies and businesses, many of which, like this Board, are run by local people who want Trowbridge to be able to take pride in its status as Wiltshire’s county town, to step forward and pledge us the money to continue to make that dream become reality.

“We hope that they will recognise that by supporting us, they are supporting the town where their staff live as well as work, where their customers live, and which has already benefitted from the Town Hall project – using the figures calculated by ACE’s Independent Economic Analysis in 2013, the Town Hall has contributed £700,000 to the local economy during the last year. With their help it can bring even more money into Trowbridge.”

Companies wanting to know more about how they can get involved should contact THA Director Tracy Sullivan on or call 01225 774306.

People who want to make a one-off or a regular monthly donation, to help ensure the long term future of the Town Hall, can do so through Local, by searching for Town Hall Arts.

“We only have until the end of June to find this money, because we have to close the doors then in order to give our resident artists and community groups and staff notice, and for them and us to clear the building with dignity before we run out of cash completely,” Mr Kay said. “The Board have thought long and hard before making this very difficult decision and it is not something any of us want to do.

“We hope the community of Trowbridge feels the same way and will support us.”