Talks on future of town's arts venues

By Danielle NuttallCOUNCILLORS have agreed to consult the public on the future of Ipswich's arts and entertainment venues, including the threatened Regent Theatre.

By Danielle Nuttall

COUNCILLORS have agreed to consult the public on the future of Ipswich's arts and entertainment venues, including the threatened Regent Theatre.

Four options are being considered by Ipswich Borough Council as it undertakes a major review of arts provision in the town.

One option could see the council investing to upgrade facilities at the Corn Exchange and the New Wolsey Theatre, but put the Grade-II listed Regent Theatre to alternative use or “mothball” it.


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Last night members of the council's executive committee agreed with a recommendation to undertake a public consultation with residents and interested organisations on the future of entertainment in the town.

They also decided to continue developing the options and produce a second report to the executive committee detailing the findings of the public consultation.

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John Mowles, the lead councillor for leisure, said: “I think the outcome of this could and should be something which is far removed from a cultural desert.

“The possibility of a university in the town and people using that university brings a new dimension to what we provide in arts and entertainment anyway.

“All of us would like to see an improvement in what we have got. They need considerable investment.

“We always have to have regard to the council tax payer because they are the ones who will be picking up the tab for most of this.”

In option one, the council would invest £7,869,000, would operate the same facilities it does now and carry out essential work to ensure the buildings were maintained and complied with the DDA. It would also need to invest in similar work at the New Wolsey Theatre.

In option two, it would invest £12,205,000, developing the existing facilities - including the removal of asbestos materials, upgrading toilets and redecorating public areas - as well as carrying out the essential work outlined in option one for its buildings and the New Wolsey Theatre.

In option three, the council would invest £3,392,000 to upgrade the facilities and complete essential work at the Corn Exchange complex and the New Wolsey Theatre, but it would put the Regent Theatre to alternative use or “mothball” it.

In option four, it would invest £18,701,000, including carrying out major works at the Regent Theatre, possibly with investment from a private partner. However, the council would cease to provide entertainment at the Corn Exchange and would put it to alternative uses or sell it.

The Film Theatre would be moved to an existing building or a new building, possibly as part of the Waterfront Development, while the Town Hall would be put to other and the New Wolsey Theatre would be maintained and improved.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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