The last few months have been a challenging time for the Dartington Hall Trust, but I’m pleased to share that our recent reorganisation is nearing completion and we are moving forward into a new decade for Dartington.

There are some exciting developments happening on the estate, including:

New biomass heating for Hex and Gym and Schumacher College

Work has begun on repairing the Hex roof that will help us expand our brilliant arts programming 

Revitalised Schumacher College degrees that will be cheaper and more accessible but still offering the important transformational learning for which the college is renowned

New degrees in the arts that herald the launch of a new arts school

The start of work on the restoration of the Old Postern, home of Schumacher College, with work expected to complete in time for the 30th anniversary of the college – all funded by a dedicated £2m gift that was the largest in the history of the Trust

Dartington Music Summer School and Festival is opening up its programme more than ever to local audiences, with a year-round series of informal Listening Clubs, and a new programme of free and family-friendly events and community choirs during the summer. The 2020 Festival, under new artistic director Sara Mohr-Pietsch, reaches out to new venues across the Dartington estate and beyond, and will bring together voices of all ages and abilities in a major choral commission, JOY!, part-devised through workshops with local groups including Dartington Primary School children, Totnes Young People’s Theatre and South Devon Refugee Network.

 The combination of savings through restructure and ultimately eliminating our pension fund deficit means that we have reduced our annual deficit by c. £1m.  This is a massive step forward and a great sign that we can continue to work towards our overall aim –to operate in a way that delivers our important mission in a sustainable way.

With increased costs and challenges in these times, the emphasis is for the Trust to find sustainable and long-term solutions.

As part of this we are proceeding with the sale of a number of properties on the estate, alongside selected commercial property and land.  Residential properties are being sold with clauses in place that mean that DHT will have first refusal on buy-back, and the properties cannot be used as holiday homes, preserving the integrity of the estate.

We have established regular meetings with members, volunteers and tenants; meetings with individuals and groups who are concerned about our future and worried about some recent plans and decisions. We will continue to meet and engage with our stakeholders to create a secure and exciting future for the Trust.

As a Trust, we are fundamentally resetting our way of approaching our finances so that we can deliver our mission and purpose and establish a way of doing so that is financially sound for the long term.

When we achieve this we will have a solid platform to continue to deliver world-class learning and arts programmes; transformational learning and research that offer insight and solutions into some of the great challenges of our time; and an incredible place to visit, stay and enjoy our hospitality.

There is much more to report and I look forward to sharing further exciting news and progress in the coming months.

On behalf of all the directors and trustees at Dartington Hall Trust,

Alan Boldon

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