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£96,000 cash injection set for Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis
2:36pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
THE Marine Theatre has been warned that it needs to make major changes as the town council prepares to plough almost £100,000 into the venue.
Lyme Regis Town Council is considering a new agreement with the theatre trustees which would commit £96,000 of taxpayers’ money over the next three years.
But members are worried that the Lyme Arts Community Trust is not doing enough to raise its own funds and said without the council the theatre would inevitably close.
The authority has injected around £375,000 into the venue over the last 11 years, including a £30,000 bail out in 2010 to avoid going into administration.
A draft service level agreement went before councillors at last week’s Strategy and Policy Committee meeting, setting out core funding of £32,000 a year between 2013 and 2016.
Coun Lucy Campbell said: “I think there ought to be some clearly defined measurable targets for them to hit.”
Coun Turner said the agreement should add more weight to the trust maintaining and improving the building.
Coun Anita Williams said: “For me it’s got a long way to go before it’s something I’m happy with. I see nothing in here about how the money ought to be spent on the structure.”
Members will now thrash out a more stringent agreement that will set specific targets for the trust to meet by strict dates.
Some councillors suggested reducing the funding and others would prefer a one-year agreement.
Coun Michaela Ellis said: “This ‘x’ amount of years seems to be going on and on.
“I think we should be thinking about taking down the money we give them so they do more fundraising rather than relying on this money from us.
“I think they should be more self-funding.”
Coun Williams said: “We know that times are hard. Every council is struggling and we need to spend our money wisely.
“We would like to see a strategy in place to see the theatre move further to a place we would like to see them in.
“We can’t afford to throw money at something that is not going to be viable.
“We would like a better structure that helps them to become more viable.”
Coun Mark Gage said the council’s support is in effect being reduced because after the first year the theatre will no longer have free use of offices under the Guildhall, which costs up to £7,000 a year.
He said: “We have reduced substantially the support the council is providing. The reality is without the major support of the town council the facility will close. I don’t want to see that.
“Although they have still got a bit to do and although they haven’t moved very far in some areas – I think they need to move forward in the amount and type of things they offer – it is a great asset to the town and it needs our support to remain in operation.”