Funding boost for theatre

By Patrick LowmanA THEATRE that almost closed under the pressure of crippling debts looks set to receive a financial boost to secure its future.The Quay Theatre in Sudbury has announced annual profits over the past two years, which have helped reduce the debts that almost forced its closure.

By Patrick Lowman

A THEATRE that almost closed under the pressure of crippling debts looks set to receive a financial boost to secure its future.

The Quay Theatre in Sudbury has announced annual profits over the past two years, which have helped reduce the debts that almost forced its closure.

But the future of the riverside playhouse now looks more secure, with bosses set to receive about £200,000 in “vital” funding over the next three years.


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The theatre almost closed in 2000 due to the £230,000 debts it owed to various banks and brewery giants Greene King.

Trustees then hired director Robert Benton who has turned round the theatre's fortunes over the past three years.

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He is expecting the theatre to make another trading profit by the end of the year and has already reduced the debts to below £150,000.

Now, officers at Babergh District Council have recommended councillors should continue to back the theatre financially, as it has done over the past three years.

They have recommended the council should provide £46,935, plus inflation, over the next three years.

Sudbury Town Council and the Arts Council for England are expected to give further grant aid, providing the theatre with a total of almost £200,000 over the next three years.

Mr Benton said: “This money is vital and the theatre just could not operate without it. The signs look good and I hope the council goes with the recommendations.”

He added tickets sales had increased 5% year on year and a full programme of productions was booked until June 2005.

Mr Benton is also in consultation with Screen East with the hope of installing a permanent cinema screen at the theatre.

In the meantime, he is working with the Suffolk Rural Cinema Initiative for a temporary screen, which from February will show a mixture of feature and art-house films.

“We have the busiest schedule we have had since I have been here and we can plan for the future,” added Mr Benton.

“The ticket sales are up, our programme is full and the debts are going down. At the moment the future of the theatre is looking very healthy.”

Babergh District Council's overview and scrutiny committee will discuss the funding of the theatre on Monday.

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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