Marina show will go on for Lowestoft players

FEARS that the Lowestoft Players would be 'priced out' of performing at the Marina Theatre were dispelled this week when it was announced that a row over fees had been resolved.

After weeks of negotiations, a deal has been struck for the Players to continue to perform shows at the venue – starting with their annual pantomime Cinderella in the new year.

The agreement brings to an end the dispute which erupted over a proposed increase in fees charged by the Marina.

Although the Players have traditionally retained the majority of all box office income from their productions, the theatre said its remaining share was not enough to meet the costs of the building's operations, technical support, staffing and marketing.

The Players, who have performed at district council theatres for 42 years, raised fears that a change in the financial arrangements could see them forced to end their long-running association with the Marina and move their productions elsewhere.

Confusion also surrounded financial arrangements when the Players claimed they would be priced out of the theatre with an 150pc increase in hire fee.

However, both parties have agreed a new deal which will apply to the Players' panto in late January and a musical in May. The two organisations will then meet again to review the arrangement and agree future projects.

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In a joint statement, the Marina Theatre (Shadow) Trust's chairman, Hazel Clover, and chief executive, Martin Halliday, said: 'The Lowestoft Players are a vital element of Lowestoft's cultural scene. It has always been the Trust's intention to recognise and support amateur and community involvement within its programming policy. The deal presented by the Trust to the Players is still a generous one by comparable standards and will require commitment by both parties to be workable.'

Players chairman, Nicholas Garrod, said: 'The Lowestoft Players are delighted, after long negotiations, to be able to bringing their fabulous pantomime Cinderella back to the Marina Theatre for another season in partnership with the Marina Trust. They would like to thank their very many loyal and kind supporters for being so patient in waiting to make their booking to see Cinderella in January 2012. Rehearsals are now well under way and it's looking great.'

Deputy leader of Waveney District Council and its portfolio holder for operational partnerships, Steve Ardley, weclomed the deal, saying: 'We recognise the important role of the Marina in terms of it being a major community facility plus a tourism attraction.

'This is why, despite the unprecedented financial challenges facing the public sector, the council believes its future can be secured through the creation of a trust. Subject to final approval by the Cabinet in November the trust will take over the complete management of the venue and be responsible for programming and pricing.'