A FORMAL collaboration between two west Suffolk venues will come a step closer next week, with council bosses poised to approve plans for a shared box office and co-ordinated marketing.

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Controversial proposals for a shared management of The Apex in Bury St Edmunds and the Theatre Royal were shelved in January after fears were expressed about funding and the loss of the individual venues’ “distinctive characters.”

However, the theatre, which must agree a new business plan with Arts Council England by March 31, have proposed an “informal alliance” with the St Edmundsbury Borough Council-owned Apex. This would mean a more coordinated approach to programming, the Bury Festival, learning activities as well as joint initiatives in marketing and audience development.

In terms of collaboration, the council will also be asked to approve in principle a shared box office.

A report that will be presented to the full council on February 26 states that it should be possible to set up the shared service before the end of 2013/2014.

It added: “The Theatre’s enthusiasm for joint working is to be welcomed. There are examples from everywhere in the country of similar models between venues.”

Chief executive of the theatre, Simon Daykin, said the proposed partnership was about “joined-up thinking” and widening access to the arts. Speaking in January, Tony Doherty, a director at The Apex said: “Any form of collaboration is positive and we look forward to working with the Theatre Royal.”

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