Two local organisations have stepped in to provide short-term funding, which will keep Dumfries and Galloway Councill’s Midsteeple Box Office in Dumfries open until the end of March 2020.
Council officials recently met representatives from The People’s Project, Dumfries and The Crichton Trust as well as the organiser of a paper petition against the proposed closure of the Box Office which had secured 153 signatures.
An online petition had also secured a further 1,005 signatures. Having heard their concerns over the potential impact on the Town Centre and client organisations, coupled with a pragmatic offer of financial support from The Crichton Trust and People’s Project, a proposal has been agreed by the Council.
This will enable the Council to continue with its intended extension of Box Office services to facilities across Dumfries and Galloway, whilst retaining the current Midsteeple service for the remainder of the financial year.
The Crichton Trust and The People’s Project will contribute one third each of the running costs of the facility. They will also work with other groups within Dumfries to develop community-based operation of the Midsteeple as a Box Office and other uses which assist in sustaining the economic, cultural and community focus of the Midsteeple within Dumfries Town Centre.
Andy Ferguson, Chair of the Council’s Communities Committee said: “Following discussions, we are now in a position to postpone our withdrawal from the Midsteeple to enable the community of Dumfries to work together to find a way to keep the Midsteeple open.”
John Martin, Vice Chair of Communities Committee added: “Recognising the very generous offer from The People’s Project and The Crichton Trust, we will continue to roll-out the extension of Box Office services to other locations, to serve the entire region. The petitions showed there is a great deal of interest in retaining the Midsteeple as a focal point within Dumfries Town Centre, and we hope that all interested parties can now work together to achieve a positive outcome for the community.”
Mark Jardine of The People’s Project said: “This is a great example of local democracy in action, coupled with practical assistance from outside groups at a time of great financial constraints placed upon the Council. However, although this is incredible news for the Midsteeple and the town centre, it is imperative that local people appreciate that this is merely a stop-gap measure, buying time to find a future for one of our most iconic buildings.”
Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust said: “We very much welcome this decision by the Council to allow breathing space while with others we consider a partnership solution to keeping the doors of this vital landmark building open. The Midsteeple is an important heritage building that has been at the heart of the Dumfries town centre and our community for well over 300 years. The Crichton Trust is delighted to play its part to help by bringing our experience of keeping heritage properties alive, building on the long-established role historic building have and continue play in our lives as keepers of collective memory, generators of a vital sense of place which together are potential exciting drivers for regeneration and new life.”
For the Box Office go to: www.dgboxoffice.co.uk/