Ownership of Newbury’s Corn Exchange could be transferred away from West Berkshire Council to help secure its long-term future.
Talks have begun to hand over the building to the Corn Exchange Trust, which has operated the venue since 2000.
The trust requested ownership to safeguard the venue’s future in the wake of its council funding being slashed by £78,000, to £174,000 a year.
A decision is expected by the end of this year, with a public consultation to be held for residents to have their say.
Grant Brisland, co-director of the Corn Exchange, said: “As we look to safeguard its future in a climate of continued funding reductions, we have asked West Berkshire Council to consider transferring the ownership of the Corn Exchange building to the trust.
“We understand that ongoing annual funding is going to be a huge challenge for West Berkshire Council and our proposal offers a solution that reduces their liability while ensuring that the Corn Exchange’s creative offer in the district will continue to thrive.”
West Berkshire Council converted the Corn Exchange into a performing arts venue in 1993.
Transferring ownership would allow the trust to develop the building to suit its needs.
The Corn Exchange has recently announced new plans for the area, including a partnership with Greenham Common Trust to develop a new arts and crafts facility at Greenham Business Park.
A new Newbury-based learning centre and the expansion of its outdoor performance programme have also been announced.
Paul James, the council’s culture and libraries manager, said: “The Corn Exchange is a local organisation with a national reputation.
“Over the past two years it has been increasingly hard for us to provide financial support because of an increasing demand for our services and particularly social care for our most vulnerable residents.
“We have to balance competing needs for our resources
and we believe transferring the ownership of the Corn Exchange will help the trust in the long term.
“We’re grateful to the Corn Exchange for understanding the difficult position we find ourselves in and look forward to continue working with them in the coming years.”