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Seagull's future looks bright in Lowestoft

PUBLISHED: 12:25 22 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:34 05 July 2010

The new manager of a much-loved community theatre which was rescued from the brink has spoken about his vision for its future.

John Hales was appointed venue manager at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft less than a fortnight ago and is now on a mission to renovate the building and restore it to its full glory as a thriving community arts centre.

The new manager of a much-loved community theatre which was rescued from the brink has spoken about his vision for its future.

John Hales was appointed venue manager at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft less than a fortnight ago and is now on a mission to renovate the building and restore it to its full glory as a thriving community arts centre.

A team of volunteers has already set to work on the Victorian building in Morton Road, Pakefield, and a range of classes and clubs are already using the venue.

Mr Hales said: “It has been a rocky road, but we have come a long way and we are hoping it is going to grow into something really special. I am on a mission to not only rebuild the wonderful place to what it used to be, but also to improve and expand its use to all aspects of the arts and community.”

Mr Hales said there had been a big change in the atmosphere over the last few days.

“It is becoming a real centre for the community like it used to be,” he said. “We are launching a community choir and we have got plans for a cinema here. There is a real injection of energy. It feels like the beginning of a new era.”

The theatre closed in July 2006 when Suffolk County Council withdrew its £60,000 a year funding as part of a £24m wave of budget cuts across the county.

But following a nine month campaign to save the theatre the keys to the building were handed over after a £250,000 loan from an anonymous benefactor allowed an advisory board to buy the building from the council.

Mr Hales said that funding was still an issue and ideally the theatre needed between £12,000 and £15,000 to repair and refurbish the building.

“Renovation work is happening but it really is starting from the beginning again,” he said. “It is such a worthwhile place and the time people donate is as valuable as the money they give.”

Mr Hales said it was his mission to have a full programme of performances and classes at the theatre throughout the year.

He is promoting the following events at the theatre this week: Return to Akenfield by regional touring company Eastern Angles is being staged on Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £7.50 for concessions and £8.50 standard price and can be reserved by calling the Eastern Angles box office on 01473 211498.

A Gardener's Question Time event takes place on Friday provided by Promoting Pakefield and sponsored by Harrod Horticultural. The event starts at 6.30pm and admission is £2 with tickets from the Ferini Art Gallery in Pakefield.

Anyone who thinks they could offer the Seagull Theatre help or support should contact Mr Hales on 01502 589726.

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