The Dartington Trust has confirmed jobs may be at risk as it announces a wide-reaching review and intended restructuring across its entire activities. 

Trustees said this week the charity has experienced poor financial performance, driven by a combination of Covid, cost of living price increases, and an over-ambitious programme. 

Led by Lord David Triesman, the new chair of Trustees, the Trustee Board and Executive Team will be working with the incoming interim Chief Finance Officer, Martyn Pither, and external restructuring experts led by Buchler Phillips, to create a sustainable future for Dartington. 

The Dartington  Trust, which employs 370 people,  delivers progressive learning programmes in the arts, ecology and social justice. The 1,200-acre estate is also a year-round visitor destination.

The Trust said that parts of the Dartington programme continued to thrive, including the Music Summer School, which was now celebrating 70 years at Dartington, a year-round exciting programme of music and family events, and new initiatives including the Byline Festival in July, which is already sold-out.

“The Trust is committed to doing everything in its power to ensure the 1200-acre estate and the local community benefit from a strong future,” it said in a statement to the Totnes Times.

“It is with regret that the Trust recognises that roles may be at risk. Staff are being kept up-to-date and will be consulted as the Review proceeds.”

Lord Triesman said: “I joined the Trust as Chair in March. It was immediately clear, based on commercial and national experience, that changes are essential to ensure survival. It isn’t a position anyone would relish. But Dartington is a local and global treasure, founded on a stream of philanthropy which probably no longer exists. 

“By taking tough decisions now, we can build a future as great as the achievements of the past. I believe local input is vital to help identify the future role and I am determined to create sustainability.

“ We have set up an email address - [email protected] - so people can send constructive proposals to us.” 

Founded in 1925, the Dartington Trust has drawn leading artists and thinkers including Bernard Leach, composer Igor Stravinsky, cellist Jacqueline du Pre, musician Ravi Shankar, playwright Bernard Shaw and environmental activist Vandana Shiva.

As well as a being social enterprise hub, a place for nature and conservative and a creative community, it is an award-winning destination with woodland walks, riverside cafes and restaurants and family friendly activities.