A POPULAR arts venue is looking forward to a bright future after being awarded £30,000 to help it become more sustainable.

The Witham in Barnard Castle won the funding from Arts Council England’s Catalyst Small Grant’s programme.

Since opening in a refurbished listed building in the town centre in 2013, the charity has become a well-respected arts and culture destination, bringing world-class acts and events to the North-East.

Last year alone more than 12,500 tickets were sold and the venue experienced a footfall in excess of 22,000.

However, like many not-for-profit organisations, The Witham depends on charitable grants to deliver its arts programme and maintain the historic building.

The £30,000 boost will change this by helping the centre set up new systems and training to reduce financial risk and increase sustainability.

Bob Garton, chairman of the charity’s trustees, said: “In the past we have been reliant on external grants but we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t continue to operate like that.

“We need to become as self-sufficient as possible, and this grant will help us to achieve that goal. It will allow us to invest in our staff and volunteers, providing them with the fundraising and marketing skills they need to promote what we do here and attract sponsors and patrons.”

Katy Taylor, The Witham’s chief executive officer, said the team was delighted the bid for funding had been successful, and added: “Over the coming months, we will be calling on individuals, groups and organisations to support The Witham with donations, sponsorship and patronage – we know The Witham attracts people to Barnard Castle, whilst providing enriching experiences for our local community as well.

“We are now at the stage where we can think more strategically in terms of long-term funding, to ensure that Barnard Castle has a vibrant arts centre for many years to come.”

Jane Tarr, director North, Arts Council England, said: “The Witham’s artistic programme has been attracting visitors and local audiences for some years now. Our Catalyst funding will enable The Witham to develop its fundraising activity and encourage local private giving support to help the organisation plan for the future and to continue bringing people to Barnard Castle.”

To find out more about The Witham, contact the Box Office on 01833-631107 or visit thewitham.org.uk