Quay Theatre's big screen hopes

A THEATRE which has announced its second year of profit after narrowly avoiding closure because of old debts is now planning a Suffolk town's first cinema complex to help it continue to thrive.

A THEATRE which has announced its second year of profit after narrowly avoiding closure because of old debts is now planning a Suffolk town's first cinema complex to help it continue to thrive.

Over the past few years Sudbury's riverside Quay Theatre has been struggling to survive but its current healthy financial position has prompted trustees to launch an appeal for the major improvement scheme.

The plans include carrying out much-needed work on the building itself and developing the cinema facility at the playhouse.

The developments were announced yesterday after it was revealed the Quay made profits of £2,000 this year, after paying wages and associated costs.


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Last year the theatre made a profit of £17,000, the most in its 21-year history. Bosses said the fall was due to the extra full-time staff taken on over the past few months.

The financial situation marks an amazing turnaround in the theatre's fortunes. It faced almost certain closure in 2000 due to historic debts of £230,000 it owed to brewery giants Greene King and banks.

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At the time trustees hired director Robert Benton, who has now turned around the theatre's fortunes by securing vital grants from various agencies and attracting high profile acts to the playhouse.

The historic debts are now below £152,000, which puts the theatre in a position to put forward the plans and launch the appeal.

The trustees want to raise £30,000 to carry out the major improvements over the next couple of years, and have already received a £1,000 donation from the Friends of the Quay Theatre.

Plans include raising £10,000 to go with match funding the theatre hopes to receive from the Rural Cinema Initiative to provide a new cinema, which would be the only one in the town and will show classic movies.

It also needs to spend another £9,000 repairing the fabric of the building and replacing a balcony which leads from the bar area to the waterfront.

Another £10,000 will be spent on improving its dance and drama studio and better disabled access and toilet facilities.

The theatre is also hoping to become a limited company within the next year with the trustees becoming its directors. This will allow them to continue to look after the theatre's affairs without the burden of personal liability.

Director Robert Benton said: "It would be lovely to raise the money in the next financial year, so we could start work as soon as possible.

"These are exciting times and there could be quite a few developments at the Quay in the next couple of years. In recent years we have just been trying to survive but we are now moving away from that and the future looks very bright.

"We now feel confident to speak to a variety of groups and say we are still here and are going forward. We have managed to alleviate the pressures of a few years ago."

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