Arts Council England has announced a new set of National Portfolio Organisations, awarding Salisbury Playhouse £1,277,944 each year over four years. The funding supports plans for the three arts organisations in Salisbury – Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury International Arts Festival and Salisbury Arts Centre – to merge to create a dynamic, diverse and resilient arts offering for Salisbury and Wiltshire.

Arts Council England’s funding will see Wiltshire become home to one of the largest cross-arts organisations outside London.

Tim Crarer, chair of the trustees of Salisbury Playhouse, said: “This level of investment is a real vote of confidence from Arts Council England that Salisbury is delivering great art and culture for everyone. Building on the outstanding work of the Arts Centre, Festival and Playhouse, we look forward to offering an ever-more ambitious and integrated programme for our current and new audiences.

“This bold strategic initiative of merging the three arts organisations is a flagship project for the Arts Council and will be an example to towns and cities across the country of how great art can bring huge economic and cultural benefits to an area.

“Arts Council England’s announcement allows us to move ahead with confidence as we create a pan-arts organisation in the South West that will fuse the year-round creation of new home-produced work with a thrilling programme of visiting companies and individuals, an annual international arts festival from 2019 and a packed programme of participatory and community projects.”

The money from Arts Council England will fund a four-year period from April 2018. Plans for the new organisation will be announced in the new year.