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Lowestoft's Marina is 'jewel in crown'

PUBLISHED: 10:10 20 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:21 06 July 2010

SENIOR management at Waveney District Council hit back this week over claims that the Marina Theatre, in Lowestoft, has an uncertain future following a reduction in the number of shows for the new 2009/10 programme.

SENIOR management at Waveney District Council hit back this week over claims that the Marina Theatre, in Lowestoft, has an uncertain future following a reduction in the number of shows for the new 2009/10 programme.

They said that the theatre is still regarded as their “jewel in our crown” and that a number of options were being investigated to ensure its continued success.

The comments came following calls to move the council-run theatre into the hands of a trust which were strengthened this week as support was canvassed.

At the weekend members of the Friends of the Marina Theatre handed out letters to gauge the audience for their support in backing calls to move the Marina into the hands of a trust.

A spokesman for the Friends said: “We had an absolutely tremendous response from the people present, who all wanted to help in some way.”

The strength of support for switching the theatre into private hands was also felt across north Suffolk and beyond.

Christine Obern, the secretary of the Southwold Theatre and Music Group, said: “We appeal to Waveney District Council to explore all possibilities that will allow the Marina to grow and thrive with the present management team. A theatre is expensive to run, but you have to have top quality events to attract more top artistes.”

And Mike Ellis from www.ukentertainmentdirect.com, admitted it would be “a sad loss” should the Marina be forced to close and called for the council to follow the similar success of theatres in Devon, which have been switched to be run as a registered charity with local commercial business support.

But David Gallagher, head of partnerships and procurement at the council, told The Journal: “Waveney is as keen as anyone to provide a long-term sustainable and successful service at the theatre and all options, including alternative ownership, remain on the table.

“Although successful in terms of programme, attendances and profile, there is no escaping the fact that the theatre has run over budget for the last five years, with the most recent annual deficit running in to six figures. Indeed, the shortfall has usually been balanced by moving budgets from other services and leisure areas in to the theatre. This cannot continue and also makes a mockery of unfounded and unreasonable suggestions that theatre profits are somehow siphoned off by the council.

“Waveney District Council has invested hugely in the Marina Theatre - it is the 'jewel in our crown' and no-one understands the joy and benefits it brings to our communities better than us.”

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