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Mission to ensure theatre's survival

PUBLISHED: 10:38 01 June 2010 | UPDATED: 09:45 01 August 2010

FEARS that the final curtain may be set to fall on Lowestoft's biggest theatre have been dismissed as moves get under way to keep it at the heart of the community.

FEARS that the final curtain may be set to fall on Lowestoft's biggest theatre have been dismissed as moves get under way to keep it at the heart of the community.

A question mark has been hanging over the future of the Marina Theatre since the venue was forced to cut the number of shows it puts on last year, but now it is hoped that an alternative way of operating the theatre can be found.

Waveney District Council, which runs the Marina, is going to advertise for expressions of interest to take over the running of the venue within the next few weeks and the formation of a new trust is among the possible options.

A council spokesman said: “The council is considering alternative ways of operating the theatre and a working group met for the first time this week to look into this.

“The idea of creating a trust is being considered along with other alternatives, which will all be considered with the best future for the theatre in mind.

“The working group have begun to draw up plans and if an alternative operational arrangement is appropriate, we would like to have this in place for December 2010.”

In November last year, the Friends of the Marina Theatre called on the council to hand over the 750-seat venue to a local trust to help secure its future.

Now the Friends are hopeful that there will be enough interest in the theatre to keep it “at the heart of the community.”

With this in mind, the Friends have called a meeting to elect a committee and create a bidding group so they can develop a business plan for the theatre.

Friends spokesman Mike Holroyd said the group currently has about 600 to 700 members, and he hopes that many more local people will turn out to back the trust bid.

He said: “We have to make sure that the Marina Theatre thrives and survives. There is much to do before an effective bid can be mounted. In particular, we need the support of professionals - legal advice, tax expertise and experience of financial management - who could help us to organise an effective approach.”

Responsibility for the Marina was moved into Waveney's Culture, Tourism and Sport Team portfolio last month, but it is still unclear what role council might have if it is taken on by a trust.

“What this means for the council will become apparent as we look at the project in more detail,” a council spokesman said.

The Friends will be holding a meeting at the theatre at 7pm on Tuesday June 8 for anyone who is interested in supporting the bid to form a trust.

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