A CHARITY has taken over the running of a Hampshire arts centre in a move which aims to secure its long-term future.

The 18th century Hanger Farm, home of Totton and Eling Arts Festival, has been run by Totton College for the past few years.

The facility’s future was plunged into doubt 12 months ago following the college’s decision to terminate its lease.

Now the Minstead Trust has stepped into the breach and is already planning a raft of improvements, including a cafe and extra opportunities for people with special educational needs to access the arts.


Totton councillor David Harrison said: “Minstead Trust is a local charity with a great reputation.

“I was somewhat surprised that they expressed an interest in taking on Hanger Farm, which is primarily an arts facility.

“However the staff, volunteers and users of their services are all very much part of the local community and I see this as a positive way forward.

“There was a danger the facility might close temporarily but I’m pleased to see the change in management has proved pretty seamless.”

The trust has signed a 20-year lease with Totton and Eling Town Council, which owns the centre.

Town clerk Derek Biggs said: “The council is extremely pleased it’s been possible to find a new operator for the centre, which has been highly successful over many years.

“We’re sure the people of Totton and Eling will continue for many years to enjoy this exciting facility.”

The trust is a learning disability charity which also runs Furzey Gardens in the New Forest.

Its chief executive, Madeleine Durie, said: “We’re really excited about this opportunity to continue to develop the arts centre, delivering a high quality and varied arts programme, as well as showcasing accessible arts alongside mainstream entertainment at affordable prices.”


The deal was also welcomed by the principal of Totton College, Maxine Room.

She said: “We recognise the expertise within Minstead Trust and we feel confident they will be able to enhance the visitor experience and continue to grow the business. We wish them well in their future endeavours.”

Planned improvements include a café serving cakes, hot drinks and light lunches.

Film performances suitable for people with autism and special needs and a theatre group for people with learning disabilities are also proposed.

In 2015 the crime reduction charity NACRO agreed to manage Hanger Farm as part of its merger with the college but last year announced it was terminating its lease with the town council.

The authority vowed to run the facility itself if it failed to find a new operator.