Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Sudbury: Community theatre bucks trend

08:00 23 January 2013

Quay Theatre board members Nicki Murphy and Simon Frampton outside the 300-year-old building

Quay Theatre board members Nicki Murphy and Simon Frampton outside the 300-year-old building

Archant

VOLUNTEERS who run a community theatre, which is bucking the national trend and “thriving” in tough economic times, put its success down to “good housekeeping”.

shares

The board of trustees at Sudbury’s Quay Theatre have been quick to quash rumours that they are in financial trouble. Theatre co-ordinator Nicki Murphy said where larger enterprises such as Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion had succumbed to sweeping cuts in grant funding, the Quay - which a registered charity - had enjoyed one of its best years ever. It has just invested in a new £3,000 sound system with money raised by its own fundraising group.

The Quay, which opened in 1981 as a venue for Sudbury Dramatic Society, encountered financial difficulties in 2011 and had to make staff redundancies. Since then, it has been run from its original 300-year-old building on the edge of the river Stour, almost entirely by voluntary staff.

In recent weeks the Quay has played host to well-known acts including comedian Jo Brand and Hardeep Singh Kohli, who placed it in his “top six” venues in the UK.

But Ms Murphy said balancing the books had not been easy, adding: “Around 18 months ago, we experienced difficulties when our grant funding was reduced, but since then and with the input of many different people, we have managed to keep to budget. Of course we can never afford to become complacent but I believe we have hit our budget and had our best year yet through good housekeeping, looking at programming very carefully and ensuring that we don’t ‘lose’ money on any event.”

The theatre operates a percentage split with artists - or they can hire the theatre - rather than performers receiving a guaranteed fee. Because the Quay has performed so well, some of its board members have even been asked to advise volunteers looking to revitalise the Spa Pavilion.

Quay publicity officer Simon Frampton admits that another reasons why the theatre has survived is because staff are willing to try new things. Last year for example Mr Frampton tried to broaden the range of films offered at the Quay in a bid to draw in a younger audience. But he said this has not been successful, adding: “It is important to recognise that if new things fail, we shouldn’t be afraid to drop them. Young people want the whole Imax cinema social experience these days and are not willing to sit in a 125-seat theatre to watch a film - even if we reduce the ticket price to below £5. Very big films that have already shown elsewhere seem to do well here, but we have to accept that our audiences are of a certain age. We have learned to play to our strengths.”

Part of the venue’s success is that it is open for use by dozens of different community organisations and has become much more than a theatre according to Ms Murphy. She concluded: “Without the ongoing support of Babergh District Council, Sudbury Dramatic Society, Sudbury Musical Society, our volunteers and the whole town, we would struggle. We are very fortunate to be regarded as such an intergral and important part of the community.”

shares

1 comment

  • As a volunteer at the theatre, I would like to add that our thanks must also go to SUDBURY TOWN COUNCIL for their support, and of course to our loyal public who continue to visit even in the difficult economic climate - we wouldn't be here without you!

    Report this comment

    Jan Mellon

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Doug Field - Executive Officer - Finance and Technology, East of England Co-op

An East Anglian store chain is celebrating a 3% rise in profits, but warned store closures could be on the cards this year as it continues to battle tough trading conditions.

The EEAST emergency operations centre

Health minister Dan Poulter has praised the leadership and investment at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust service after it recorded some of its best figures in Suffolk for months.

left to right): Andrew Harrison, Managing Director Stansted Airport; Charlie Cornish, MAG Chief Executive; Beth Brewster, MAG Retail Director

Phase two of an £80million project to transform restaurants on offer at Stansted Airport was officially opened yesterday, amid hopes the improved offer will attract long-haul airlines to the transport hub.

A small plane kept the Virgin balloon company for part of the trip

Geometrical farmers’ fields, tree canopies and a selfie were all caught on camera when photographer Sarah Lucy Brown flew over the county in a hot air balloon.

Jonathan Glenister, who has been reported missing

Police are searching for a 20-year-old man from Haverhill who has not been seen since Saturday evening.

HMS Rhododendron at anchor in Russia

Talk of VE Day evokes different memories for different people. For Arthur Simmons, it came as he sailed back from Russia.

IPSWICH TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB

Fans of the animated Disney film Frozen will have the opportunity to experience every song and snow flake with an Open Air Cinema Day at Ipswich Town Football Club this summer.

Debenham village parish sign.

The leader of a Suffolk village authority has questioned the electoral process after a representative could not stand for re-election due to citizenship issues.

Delays have been caused by a signal fault

Rail services between Norwich and Diss are having to run at a reduced speed on some lines due to a fault with the signalling system.

The future of RAF Lakenheath will be central to election battle in West Suffolk on May 7

Forest Heath District Council covers a large rural area, stretching from the Cambridgeshire border and Newmarket in the south to the town of Brandon on the Norfolk border.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages