Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Bury St Edmunds: Plans to merge Theatre Royal and Apex are scrapped

14:00 23 January 2013

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

The Apex in Bury St Edmunds


PLANS to merge the running of two of the region’s leading arts venues have been shelved.


Yesterday, the board of the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds announced it will no longer be pursuing a single management operation with the town’s music and entertainment venue The Apex.

Instead, it has put forward new proposals based on a partnership between the venues where both organisations will “retain their structural independence and distinctive characters”.

Under the new approach being put forward the two organisations will collaborate in a number of key areas. These include a joint box office operation, co-ordination of artistic programmes, the development of a shared vision for the arts in West Suffolk and strategic joint marketing and promotional activities.

The change of direction follows a period last year where supporters of the theatre voiced concerns that a full merger would threaten the theatre’s artistic integrity and burden it with some of the running costs of the Apex.

And yesterday, the chief executive of the 350-seater theatre, Simon Daykin, acknowledged these views had been instrumental in the decision to formulate the new plans.

He said: “Although the idea for the merger came from the right place there were deep concerns and anxieties from stakeholders.

“Forming a new entity that encompasses the running of a 200-year-old theatre and a two-year-old modern concert hall would have been a big move and there were potentially big risks involved from a financial and operational point of view.

“There were also concerns from the point of view of a public perception of what this might mean for their cherished Theatre Royal. People do genuinely care about what we do and it is essential they come along with us.

“There was a danger we had come up with a complicated solution to what is a simple problem - that is growing arts and cultural activities in the town and west Suffolk.

“So, we have decided to go back to basics.”

Mr Daykin said the proposed partnership was about “joined-up thinking” and was aimed at widening “access to a programme of quality arts activities”. He added that key funders of the theatre, such as The Arts Council, Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, backed the plans.

The news has been welcomed by members of the Theatre Support Group (TSG) – an alliance of supporters of the Theatre Royal who last year launched a “Don’t Bury Our Theatre,” campaign in opposition to merger plans.

Member and former chairman of the theatre’s board, Judith Shallow, said: “This is exactly the type of collaborative approach we have been suggesting. It makes a huge amount of sense particularly in this economic climate.”

Tony Doherty, a director at the Apex, also greeted the new proposals warmly.

He said: “Any form of collaboration is positive and we look forward to working with the Theatre Royal to seek any opportunity to maximise the potential of Bury St Edmunds as a cultural destination.

“There are various way of managing any arts organisation and this is one way forward. We will see how this goes but keep an open mind about other options in the future.

“We are happy to work with the Theatre Royal to widen the choice available to audiences in west Suffolk.”

The new proposals will now be put forward for public consultation. A public meeting is due to be held on February 12 to discuss the plans while a dedicated website, with information and an online discussion forum is to be launched on January 28.



Woman conned by bogus caller (Stock photo)

A Hadleigh woman who lost £2,500 in a police scam has warned others to be alert to the crime.

The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance

A man was air lifted to hospital with chest pains after he was involved in a two-vehicle crash in Essex.

She was last seen in the area of Downside Close in Ipswich.

Concern is growing for a 49-year-old woman who has gone missing in Ipswich.

Essex police are investigating a robbery at Jaywick.

An 88-year-old Essex man suffered a broken hip when he was knocked to the ground by robbers who burst into his Jaywick home.

Members of the nursing team at Ipswich Hospital.

Carers and visitors of people being looked after at Ipswich Hospital will next month be able to spend more time with patients as new extended visiting hours are introduced.

Part of Sue Brooks' photograph of pupils and staff at Fonnereau House School, Ipswich, in 1952. Are you in the picture?

I recently asked readers if they had memories of Fonnereau House School, Ipswich, which was in Fonnereau Road, close to High Street.

Doors reopen on the new look East of England Co-op Daily store in Woodbridge Thoroughfare. Staff members, left to right, Chloe Williams, James Buckles, Shirley Pierce.

Shoppers were greeted by the sight of a new-look Co-op on their high street yesterday, when a Suffolk branch of the store reopened following three weeks of refurbishment.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the East Anglian Daily Times e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24