THE Swindon arts scene was given a huge boost this week with the announcement several groups will receive a combined total of more than £800,000 of funding.

The Arts Council has been awarded more than £600,000 worth of funding to Swindon Dance while the Sixth Sense Theatre Group has been given just over £200,000.

The payments will be split over the next three years.

The news was welcomed by both groups, who said the money will allow them to continue providing opportunities for young people in Swindon and the surrounding area.

Swindon Dance will be given £206,000 each year until 2018 and this means they will be able to keep putting on top quality shows.

Marie McCluskey, artistic director of Swindon Dance said: “We are so pleased with the funding.

“We are only here today due to the continuous investment from Arts Council England and Swindon Council, without whichwe would not have been able to grow and develop such a strategic, sustainable and robust organisation.

“It is both a success for Swindon Dance and Swindon itself.

“This will enable us to continue to offer extraordinary dance experiences for everyone in Swindon, South West and beyond, continuing to create the dance, dancers and audiences of the future.”

Sixth Sense said the money was a huge boost for the arts scene in the town, especially at a time when money is tight.

Benedict Eccles, the arstistic producer, said: “It is a great vote of confidence for Swindon to attract this investment, both for theatre and dance.

“There is a very tough business model in theatre and I don’t think it would be possible without grants like these.

“From this seed money, we are able to develop other sources of funding. We work with all the primary and secondary schools in the area and help them learn important messages through theatre, so this money means that can continue.

“Thanks needs to go to the council as well because without investment from them, this money wouldn’t be possible.”

Across Wiltshire, the Arts Council has awarded more than £5 million worth of funding to groups it considers to have reached a high standard and provide opportunities for young people.

Phil Gibby, area director of the south west Arts Council England said: “This is an extremely strong portfolio of organisations delivering high quality arts and cultural experiences to audiences throughout the south west.

“We are delighted that we have maintained or increased our level of support to so many of our core organisations through this process.

“We will continue to work to ensure ambition, artistic adventure and entrepreneurial spirit are kept alive, so that a strong countrywide cultural ecology is nurtured and maintained.”