A NEW trust that promises to make Hampshire a world-class cultural hub now has the keys to council-owned museums, galleries and arts centres.

Hampshire Cultural Trust has taken over the operation and funding of all venues in a bid to boost visitor numbers.

Buildings, assets and collections belonging to Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council are now leased to it.

The move is hoped to not only safeguard the long-term future of Hampshire’s cultural venues for future generations, but also help save money by placing responsibility for all sites under one charitable trust.

It will be able to generate additional investment and gain access to external grants and donations, reducing dependency on local authority funding.

Janet Owen, executive officer of Hampshire Cultural Trust, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for arts and culture in Hampshire. The county has so much to offer culturally, both to residents and visitors, and our aim is to build on the fantastic success of what is already on our doorstep and elevate our portfolio into something world-class that has the power to transform people’s lives.”

The handover took place on Saturday.

A full list of venues that are now operated and funded by Hampshire Cultural Trust is as follows:

• Aldershot Military Museum, Aldershot

• Andover Museum, Andover

• Basing House, Basingstoke

• Bursledon Windmill, Bursledon

• City Museum, Winchester

• Curtis Museum, Alton

Eastleigh Museum, Eastleigh

• The Gallery at Gosport Discovery Centre

• Museum on the Mezzanine at Gosport Discovery Centre

• SEARCH at Gosport Discovery Centre

• Milestones, Basingstoke

• Red House Museum, Christchurch

• Rockbourne Roman Villa, near Fordingbridge

• Westbury Manor Museum, Fareham

• Westgate, Winchester

• Willis Museum, Basingstoke

• The Sainsbury Gallery, Basingstoke

• Allen Gallery, Alton

• City Space at Winchester Discovery Centre

• The Gallery at Winchester Discovery Centre

• Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

• Forest Arts Centre, New Milton

• West End Arts Centre, Aldershot

Venues that Hampshire Cultural Trust will work in partnership with other bodies and organisations to support are:

• Wessex Dance Academy

• St Barbe Museum, Lymington

• The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, Havant