The Arts Centre is to be sold to the owner of another entertainment venue in a bid to 'move forward with renewed vigour' and ensure it has a viable future.

Bridport Arts Centre's board of trustees have agreed to sell the building to Alasdair Warren, the owner of Bridport's Electric Palace.

As part of the sale, the board has agreed a long-term lease with the new owner that allows the arts centre to continue as an independent charity, retaining its autonomy and continuing to deliver the current year-round programme of theatre, dance, music, the spoken word and selected film within the theatre and visual arts within the Allsop Gallery.

It comes soon after the arts centre appointed new director Mick Smith, who says the venue is embarking on a new and exciting phase in its history.

Like most arts centres around the country, Bridport Arts Centre is dependent on grants to enable it to continue and its status as a charity has not protected it from an uncertain future with rising costs and the likelihood of diminishing funding. Grants from local government and central government organisations are more closely fought over and increased competition for the prestigious Bridport Prize for literature has seen reduced income, according to Mr Smith.

In addition, he says the Grade II-listed building continues to need attention, despite work being done internally three years ago.

In a statement, Mr Smith says that, following the sale of the building, Bridport Arts Centre and the Electric Palace will work closely together to offer a programme tuned to the characteristics of the two different venues.

"The new owner of the building intends to invest in retaining and enhancing its character whilst also further improving the building so that it can deliver an even better experience for the community," he said.

Alasdair Warren said: “Bridport Arts Centre plays a key role in the community and I wanted to ensure that the building could continue to deliver substantially all that it does today. We will invest in the building, to further improve it, so that it can do even more for the community in the future.”

Nick Ziebland, outgoing chairman of the board of trustees, said: “The sale will allow the Arts Centre to remain a multi-arts venue delivering a broad range of visual and performing arts for the people of Bridport and west Dorset, as it always has. We couldn’t imagine a better owner of this building.”

Robert Wheelwright, long time board member and incoming chairman, added: “Bridport Arts Centre can now move forward with renewed vigour, where members and users can concentrate on enjoying the performances and exhibitions, knowing that their contributions are going to support the art and not the architecture.”