A research project has provided clear evidence of how important The Maltings theatre and arts centre in Berwick is to the general public.
Its role as a social and cultural hub at the heart of the community was highlighted by an overwhelming 99% of respondents to a survey. And it is equally important to Berwickshire residents, many of whom have been frequent visitors to the building over the 25 years it has been open.
Matthew Rooke, chief executive of The Maltings said: “The Maltings is delighted with the feedback from this survey.
“It’s very important for us to hear back regularly from the people who use our building and buy tickets for our events, so that we can continue to refine our programme and the service we offer.
“It’s a powerful endorsement for our staff and volunteers to have such concrete evidence that we’re succeeding in our goal to be working right at the heart of our community.”
The six-month study found that 99% of respondents believe that having a high quality venue is important to people living in rural environments and the local community values it highly as a social and cultural hub.
The results show that 94% rate the quality and variety of the programme highly, and endorse the range and quality of the venue’s programmes, as well as the value for money they offer. And 98% consider the venue to be friendly, welcoming places - not at all elitist.
At a time when public funding for the arts comes under ever increasing pressure from central and local government, the research provides solid evidence that the public believe it should continue to receive public funding (94%).
Respondents stressed that this is especially important for people in rural areas who would otherwise have to invest considerable time and effort in travelling some distance to access equivalent high quality arts.
A survey report earlier this year showed that the Maltings is needing £2 million of repairs done to it.
In the past there has been tension between Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council that despite Berwickshire residents being regular users of The Maltings over the 25 years no public money from north of the border goes towards its upkeep.
Now its future is under the microscope and Mr Rooke said: “We have to be open to all the possible options, from maintaining the building that we have to exploring whether the sums involved in repairs might be so high that they’d be better spent in partnership with others on developing a new facility fit for the 21st century - in terms of technical requirements, venue facilities and customer comfort.”