Key decision is near on future of Marina Theatre in Lowestoft
PLANS to secure the future of Lowestoft's Marina Theatre overcame their first hurdle this week, and now a key decision to confirm its 'long-term sustainability' is just days away.
As reported in last week's Journal, a new era is about to dawn for The Marina as a newly formed charitable trust prepares to take over its day-to-day operation following months of uncertainty.
On Wednesday, Waveney District Council's learning and skills and prosperous scrutiny sub-committee approved a report, 'The Future Operation of the Marina Theatre', which recommended the transfer to a group run by its current management team in association with the theatre's Friends group.
A Waveney spokesman confirmed: 'It went ahead as recommended and it will go to cabinet on March 22.'
Meanwhile, further details of the trust's bid have emerged.
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The report discussed by councillors shows that when organisations were invited to make bids to take over the theatre earlier this year, six downloaded the documents but only one – Marina Theatre Management in association with The Friends of the Marina Theatre – actually submitted a tender.
In its bid, the trust makes a commitment to a full and diverse programme of stage and screen entertainment and responsibility for the repair, maintenance and general management of the building.
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The move follows the setting up of the Sentinel Leisure Trust by Waveney District Council – a body which has taken on the management of the authority's leisure services.
The council's report also states that under its management, 'the theatre has generated approximately �1m in income' and 'expended in the region of �1.22m per annum' for the last three to five years.
'With the Comprehensive Spending Review and anticipated pressure on the council's budgets, the continued overspend on this budget is a real risk to the authority moving forward,' the report says. 'The building is in need of capital investment in the region of �200k over the next five to seven years.' Resurfacing the roof and replacing seating are both highlighted as 'key areas,'
The report adds: 'This decision will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Marina Theatre, its operating staff and the services they provide to the public. This decision will enable the creation of a Charitable Not for Profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO) trust, which will be the council's strategic delivery partner.'
A final decision on the proposed transfer to the new trust will now be taken by the council's cabinet on March 22. The council will retain ownership of the building.