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Proposals sought for future of theatre

Leisure and entertainment companies from across the country are being asked for their proposals for the future use of Felixstowe’s Spa Theatre with a special event being held this month.

Adverts have been placed in specialist national publications calling for companies to come forward with their innovative ideas for the Suffolk Coastal owned building.

“The financial reasons for why we have to pursue this approach have been well publicised but now we want leisure or entertainment companies or local groups to come forward with new proposals on what to do with the Spa in the future,” said Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Leisure.

“We will be holding an opportunity on Monday, April 16 for interested parties to come along, look at the building, see the potential of the Spa, Felixstowe and our district, and to discuss their proposals in principle with us.

“This event will be the first big step towards securing a long-term future for the Spa as a leisure and entertainment venue that is both financially self-supporting and attractive to the large potential audiences in our area,” added Cllr Holdcroft.

The Spa is set to stay open until after Christmas and has a packed and varied range of attractions taking to its stage over the coming months including the Felixstowe Drama Festival and the Summer Youth Project, with an exciting programme of events due to be announced shortly. For full details visit www.thespapavilion.org/

Suffolk Coastal has agreed to end its contract with the Spa’s current managers Openwide Coastal as it recognised that in the current financial climate it could not afford to make the large investment needed in the building or continue with its annual grants to the theatre.

Consultants brought in by the Council had concluded that if no major investments are made the Spa will quickly become unfit for purpose and that the building is already out of date. Audiences at the Spa have been falling to a degree that each ticket was being subsidised by the Council by well over £7.

“Despite the best efforts of Openwide, we are faced with a theatre that is struggling to attract break-even audiences, and a pressing need to both invest in the fabric of the building and in its operating costs that this Council is not in a position to agree to.

“One of the options that we hope will be presented to us is for a theatre trust like that which has taken over the running of Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre. However, we must open up the prospect of running the Spa in the future to the market, to find out what leisure or entertainment proposals and potential investment outside companies and organisations may come up with,” added Cllr Holdcroft.

Anyone with a serious interest in taking the Spa into the future can request an information pack and book an appointment for April 16 by contacting Lacey Crowe on 01502 523301 or email lacey.crowe@suffolkcoastal.gov.uk.

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