A new café is being developed at the arts centre to increase footfall after it ‘hit a financial crisis’ - but two monthly markets will now need to find a new home.

Bridport Artisan Market and Bridport Farmers’ Market, which are held monthly at the arts centre, can no longer be held at the venue during the summer months as in a bid to keep it sustainable, the new owner will be using the forecourt and part of the building for customers to eat and drink.

Organisers of the artisan market are ‘disappointed’ by the decision and are looking for a venue to ensure it can continue to run throughout the year.

Organiser Neil Barnes said: “We are of course disappointed that the bookings we made for this summer have been revoked by the arts centre. But saying that, we also understand that theirs is to do what they want with it.

“We were hoping we could co-exist with their plans during the summer months when the visitors are here but have resigned ourselves to running the market for only part of the year, which is a shame.

“For the past five years, Bridport Artisan Market has showcased the rich vein of talented makers and artists that Bridport has to offer, and we hope to continue if we can find a suitable venue for the summer months.

“We still have two markets coming up at the arts centre, the first is this Saturday and the second is on March 21.”

The farmers’ market has decided to move to Bridport Youth and Community Centre on Gundry Lane, starting on April 11.

A spokesman for Dorset Farmers’ Market, which holds the market in Bridport, said: “Our biggest challenge will be footfall and directing regular customers to the new venue. We are a not for profit organisation and hope we can make this work for our traders and regular customers in Bridport.”

It was announced last year that Bridport Arts Centre will be sold to Alistair Warren, owner of the Electric Palace, and ‘difficult decisions’ to keep the venue sustainable have come after years of an uncertain future for the arts centre.

Mick Smith, director of Bridport Arts Centre, said: “The charity which runs Bridport Arts Centre has been facing an uncertain future for some years, with rising costs and increased pressure on funding. With the Grade II listed building continuing to need attention, although it is an asset on paper, it has been a constant draw on the non-existent funds.

“In the middle of last year, the arts centre charity hit a financial crisis. As the charity owned the building, the trustees of the charity reluctantly decided to sell it as the only way of ensuring the charity’s continued existence. As a result, the work of the charity in providing an arts centre for the people of Bridport continues, with reduced operating costs and a greater chance of sustainability.

“As part of the sale agreement, the new owner of the building will be developing and opening a café/restaurant in part of the building not used for arts activities, which, as well as providing an income for the new owner, should also enhance footfall into the arts centre, supporting our sustainability.

“In the winter months - October to March - it would be quite possible to have activities such as the farmers and artisan markets taking place at the arts centre and I have already said that we would be happy to consider continuing this arrangement during these months. During the summer months - April to September - as part of the future shared use of the centre, the new owner will be using the forecourt in front of the building as a space for customers to sit and eat outside. It will therefore not be possible to hold markets there during this period.

“We have discussed these developments with the organisers of both the farmers’ market and the artisan market. The organisers of the artisan market have decided to continue to use the arts centre for the winter months and will relocate during the summer. The organisers of the farmers market have let us know that they would rather be based in one setting all year round.

“I can understand that both the organisers and traders will be sorry to move, as we are to see them go. However, I do hope that people will also appreciate that the difficult decisions which have been taken offer the only realistic way of ensuring that there remains a Bridport Arts Centre for people to enjoy.”