max temp: 13°C

min temp: 12°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


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”.

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.”

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

John Lewis opened in Chelmsford last month

An Essex woman is calling on retailers to do more for larger women after feeling “worthless” during a recent trip to the new John Lewis store in Chelmsford.

The puppy had horrific injuries and vets were forced to put it down to end its suffering

An eight-week-old Jack Russell terrier suffering from devastating injuries was handed to vets in Braintree on Monday.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' Court

Magistrates’ courts could return to towns such as Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, the police and crime commissioner has said, despite the Government shutting all but one of Suffolk’s summary courthouses last month.

A decision on banning dogs from the beach at Southwold has been put back

A decision on banning dogs from a Suffolk beach for most of the year has been further delayed – due to the volume of responses received during consultation.

Firefighters have issued a warning over fancy dress costumes being used for Halloween - these images show how quickly fire can spread. Image: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

A video warning adults and children to take extra care this Halloween has this week been released by Essex firefighters.

William Emeny picks up his award from television presenter and meteorologist Sian Lloyd

A former Suffolk schoolboy turned teacher has been named top of his class.

Wondering if your house is also home to Casper the friendly ghost? Take this quiz and find out.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented


Show Job Lists


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24