Villages in Action (VIA), the organisation that has provided entertainment events for villages throughout Devon, has closed due to lack of funding.
In the past the organisation was funded by the Arts Council, County Councils and District Councils in the county, but gradually these organisations have ceased to support the project financially. West Devon has been one of the last District Councils to provide funds, but even they are also now finding it necessary to reduce their funding. In Brentor VIA events have included music, from jazz to folk and classical, comedy, dance, film, drama and much more. These events have been one of the high spots on the Village Hall calendar The last VIA event in Brentor was on Sunday 12th March 2017, when we hosted the Kit Holmes with Al Greenwood blues performance.
Villages in Action events in Brentor have been arranged through the Brentor Community Trust and excess ticket sales income has provided valuable income for this organisation over the years. This has enabled the Trust to arrange other events in the village and has even subsidised the cost of the Brentor News. The Trust will be meeting to discuss the implications of the closure of VIA. It will now be down to us as a village to organise similar entertainment events in the Village Hall in the future, but this will take considerable organisation and effort, as well as financial risk.
Brentor is one of the villages that has signed up for the VIA-organised ‘Unearth’ community project that, thanks to Lottery funding, will still go ahead – click here to find out more.
Roger Werner, the Director of Villages in Action, writes in a letter to the Brentor Community Trust…..
I am very sorry to tell you that the current season of Villages in Action performances will be the last in the present format.
As you will know from the May 2016 menu launch event, we have been struggling financially; within the last five years we have lost in the region of 80% of our funding. Despite the valiant efforts of the volunteers, staff and Board of Trustees, we have been unsuccessful in our recent attempts to secure further long term substantial funding (although East Devon, Teignbridge and West Devon Councils have continued to fund us). We are pleased that we could run a spring programme but this has significantly eaten into our financial reserves and the Board have therefore decided to cease the rural touring scheme as it is structured at present while ViA is still solvent and can meet its commitments and costs. As it is separately funded, the Board hopes that the “Unearth” project can continue.
The Board is very sad to have to do this and I know that you too will be upset to see the end of the current rural touring scheme. All staff will be made redundant and the office closed; please therefore direct all enquiries and comments to Catherine Devenish, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, on firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to support those promoters who still have events taking place during this season. I will be in touch with you about arrangements for this but please bear with us at this distressing time. Some of you already operate an events programme in tandem with ViA performances and I hope that others may feel able to ‘go it alone’ using the experience and advice you have gained from ViA.
The Board will be spending the next few months considering how the ViA legacy can continue and if there is some way we can sustain this service to villages, albeit in a different format, whilst seeking other potential funding.
I am so very grateful to everyone who has supported Villages in Action but especially to you, the promoters, because without you, none of the fantastic events we have enjoyed would have been possible.
With very best wishes
Director, Villages in Action
Registered Charity No. 1086138 Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England & Wales No. 4171822
Dom Carnell has been organising VIA events in Brentor – tel 810425 to talk about ways of providing local live entertainment in the future.