New Arc venue set to make loss

A PUBLICLY-funded arts venue which will be delivered late and almost twice over budget will make a loss in its first three years, council chiefs have confirmed.

Laurence Cawley

A PUBLICLY-funded arts venue which will be delivered late and almost twice over budget will make a loss in its first three years, council chiefs have confirmed.

The controversial �16million development, currently under construction on the Arc shopping centre site in Bury St Edmunds, will not open until spring next year.

Financial projections put forward by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which is funding the project, show how the new venue and the Athenaeum will make a net loss of �411,905 in 2010/11, dropping to a loss of �314,668 by 2012/13.


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The authority expects the public venue to generate �139,206 during its first year, �189,416 in the second and �214,796 in the third year of business.

The amount the council expects to spend in each of these years is �240,000, meaning a total loss on the venue alone of up to �176,582.

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But yesterday it claimed the expenditure was worth it because the amount of cash generated for the town's economy as a whole would be about five times as much as spent on the two halls.

“It will cost more than we are currently spending,” a council spokeswoman said. “And in year one the costs will be higher.”

But, she said, once the set up costs of the venue are covered, it should start to generate increasing levels of income.

The spokeswoman said the major impact of the public venue would be on the wider economy because people coming to see a show or attend an event would use other services in the town, such as car parks, hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops.

Sara Mildmay-White, chairman of the council's Venue Working Party, said: “We know that for every �1 we spend on the festival around �5 comes in to the local economy, so we are anticipating a similar boost when the venue is up and running.”

“There is currently a terrific buzz with thousands of visitors to the town and when the new venue opens next spring it will add even more to this wonderful atmosphere.”

The new venue, which is yet to be named, will be able to hold 500 people seated, has flexible seating and staging and will be able to host concerts, exhibitions, dinners, dances, conferences, classes, markets and fairs.

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