Recent weeks have seen a great deal of misinformation about Dartington. The recently appointed turnaround team, led by me, is squarely focused on two things: firstly, urgently improving the estate’s financial position; secondly, ensuring a sustainable recovery so that all stakeholders benefit from a prosperous Dartington for many generations to come.
We must preserve the pillars of heritage, culture, learning and innovation in sustainability which have, for almost a century, defined Dartington – not only in the community, but potentially with anyone interested in arts and music, progressive ideas and nature. Our mission has made good early progress and are working hard to successfully conclude several discussions with potential funders and business partners. These new relationships will enhance the appeal of Dartington, secure a viable future for the estate and its businesses, and encourage deeper involvement from our supporters.
At the heart of our task is the fact that while the Trust is a registered charity, it is constrained not to make a continual loss. If it does, everything of value will be lost. All the activities at Dartington are ultimately commercial businesses; they are not community or social enterprises.
Nonetheless, these principles guide us:
- We aim to treat all staff as fairly, generously and flexibly as possible
- Local businesses operating on the Estate will pay fair, if not favourable, rents.
- Dartington will always remain a centre synonymous with the arts and progressive thinking
- Schumacher College is an important part of Dartington. There are no plans for closure.
A word about the Dartington International Summer School and Festival: the Dartington Trust is not moving these to Norfolk. They have both been core activities for us over many years. We are presently reviewing all entire operations, putting existing ones on a sounder footing and exploring new ones. But moving proprietary Dartington events to another side of the country is not in our plans. Anything claiming to be a relocated Dartington event is absolutely not an official, Dartington-branded activity.
Last word goes to prominent local entrepreneur and architect, Ben Morris, owner of the Dolphin Boatyard located at Dartside Quay on the river Dart and himself a former Dartington student. He says:
“It’s good to see that the Dartington Trust’s turnaround plans for the estate include preserving key events, while progressing as a matter of urgency some ideas for generating new revenue that will benefit the community and local businesses, as well as appealing to a new generation of visitors. There is huge potential for this beautiful estate and now is the time to harness it.”