The Extension Trust took the place of The San Giorgio Discretionary Trust when the latter matured around 1990. The San Giorgio trust was formed in the early 70s by Antoinette and John Moat.

Both trusts had as focus Education, the Arts and the Environment. The aim from the outset was to make skilful use of the modest funding to make ‘seed’ or enabling grants that would open the way to individual or organizational development. Over the years small grants of this nature were made to individuals in the fields of music, ceramics, pottery, dance, sculpture and writing. But the main attention was to explore how a small, focused Trust could coordinate larger scale energies and funding sources to pioneer radical and innovative projects that could eventually become established in national practice. And in doing so, demonstrate what can be achieved with the minimum salaried administration and the inevitable related bureaucratic cost.

The San Giorgio Trust, pre-eminently, was involved with the establishment of the Arvon Foundation (brought into being by John Fairfax and John Moat with the direct support of Antoinette Moat). True to policy SGT made (among other grants) an individual grant to enable Guido Casale research the feasibility of an Arvon Centre outside the Southwest, which led to the founding of the Lumb Bank Centre in Ted Hughes house in Yorkshire, and resulted in establishing Arvon as a national enterprise.

In 1987/88, PSG invited Cy Grant and his CONCORD PROJECT to run CONCORD IN DEVON, the first multi-cultural festival outside major conurbations. It partnered in the running of the festival (getting on for 100 events over four months) which culminated in a first-ever inter-faith celebration in Exeter Cathedral, and whose success led to a subsequent similar festival, Concord in Gloucestershire.

The Extension Trust continued the same policy. Apart from individual grants, its principal engagements were firstly in coordinating and fronting The First North Devon Christmas Festival in 1996 (its aim to restore Christmastime right across the region to a genuine celebration related to the meaning of Christmas as opposed to the current ‘consumer’ event. A limited success, but memorable for the keynote STARCHILD project involving 9 schools in a commissioned piece of music-theatre (written and directed by Nick Stimpson and Chris Williams). STARCHILD later went on to win Best Young People’s Music Theatre of the year, The Vivian Ellis Prize.

In 1999 the Trust was able to seed CLEARWAY, a locality-based rehabilitation and radical education venture, devised by Antoinette Moat to address chronic and largely unaddressed drug and alcohol dependency in and around Bideford, and to promote a model of how community involvement might address the widespread and largely denied problem of drug abuse in isolated rural areas. In 2000 when a Feasibility Study was being prepared, a local Bideford user was found to have made a list of 200 people he knew of in the area who had a heroin problem. CLEARWAY set up a helpline, a parent’s support group and a programme of group and individual counselling and support. Successfully established, it was, after three years, and as a consequence of Government funding policy, taken over by the large Regional agency, edp. Which largely put an end to the original vision of engaging local voluntary support by focusing on the Torridge district.

In 2001 the Extension Trust, reacting to the crisis in teacher morale in the country, co-ordinated the Tandem Project— a programme enabling teachers and artists to work together on equal footing and in mutual respect with the specific aim of enabling teachers to have opportunity to experience and affirm their own imaginative creativity — in the belief that only through such experience would they have certain authority and confidence to work with their own creative students. The venture came up with a report whose findings have had enduring influence.

In 2007 the Extension Trust, intent on building on the Tandem Project, has coordinated a further enterprise, THAT TEACHER, with the aim of celebrating the role of the creative teachers who, as many times acknowledged by successful artists, in encouraging the commitment of their gifted students have contributed directly t the nation’s creative culture. In this way, it is hope that teachers’ self-esteem will be affirmed, and Society’s belief in the essential inspirational role of the profession rediscovered. To date (May 2009), possibly due to economic restraints, the necessary funding has not been forthcoming.

May 2009

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