D-day for future of town's cinema

By John HowardCOUNCILLORS will decide today whether to invest in improving a town's cinema, which is due to make a loss of almost £50,000 this year.The town council-run Regal theatre in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, hosts film and live entertainment throughout the year.

By John Howard

COUNCILLORS will decide today whether to invest in improving a town's theatre, which is due to make a loss of almost £50,000 this year.

The town council-run Regal theatre in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, hosts film and live entertainment throughout the year.

But a report has revealed the number of people who attended films at the there fell from 10,009 in 2003 to 8,003 last year, although the average attendance at live performances rose from 138 in 2003 to 176 last year.


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Residents have been consulted about the Regal's future, with one option to scrap the cinema part of the complex, but early results from the questionnaires indicated that they generally supported the whole venue.

Other options under consideration have been to keep the status quo, with the same mix of films and live performances, or focussing on live shows, with some films shown when there are no live shows being put on.

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Stowmarket own councillors will vote tonight on whether to invest in improving facilities at the Regal and appoint consultants for a fixed period.

Town mayor Gordon Paton said: “We have had a very good response from the public and generally people do not want to lose the Regal.

“Hopefully, we can keep running a combination of live shows and cinema, but we will need to do things differently.

“Personally I would like to see it continue and develop, it is the time to take it forward. I hope we can save it, I am very optimistic for the future.”

The most common response from residents consulted was that it would be a great loss to Stowmarket if the Regal was closed, but 2% thought selling or closing the venue would be a good idea.

There were also complaints about poor sound quality, the need for the building to be updated, poor marketing, poor heating and films being shown long after they had gone out on general release.

But there were also suggestions for the Regal's future, including bingo, matinees and a Saturday morning club for children, and a more varied live show programme, including comedy, rock, pop and jazz music.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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