Households pay for entertainment

HOUSEHOLDS in Ipswich paid an average of £20 each for the town's Regent Theatre – before they go to any shows.And they pay an extra £15 to keep the Corn Exchange open according to new figures published today.

HOUSEHOLDS in Ipswich paid an average of £20 each for the town's Regent Theatre – before they go to any shows.

And they pay an extra £15 to keep the Corn Exchange open according to new figures published today.

Ticket prices at East Anglia's largest theatre did not cover the costs of the shows and concerts staged there – even before the cost of full-time staff and upkeep of the building is taken into account.

During the financial year 2003/4, the Regent cost council tax payers £782,081 – that means every Band D household in the town is paying £20.64 for the theatre before they go and see a show.


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The council spent £1,589,297 on hiring shows at the theatre, but took only £1,500,647 at the box office.

Regent staff cost £527,191, and maintaining the building a further £117,432 – including the cost of some work to the theatre's roof. Support services cost a further £228,019.

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The Corn Exchange cost a further £572,376 – that's £15.10 for every Band D household.

A change to the way the accounts are prepared means that this year the cost of subsidising the Corn Exchange has come down considerably – from £890,551 – while the Regent's subsidy has gone up.

Overall, however, the entertainments budget has increased by just under three percent.

Robin Adams of Constable Road, Ipswich is a member of Protest Against Council Tax Suffolk (Pacts).

He said: "It does concern me. With the rates everyone is paying these days every penny counts and I would be very interested to see the figures."

Executive committee member John Mowles said the figures showed why it was right to look at how entertainments are financed by the borough.

"But just because there is a subsidy doesn't mean it is wrong – a lot of people get a great deal of enjoyment from the entertainment at the Regent and the Corn Exchange," he said.

However Conservative leader Dale Jackson said things would have to change.

"When the council took over the theatre in the early 1990s, we warned it would all end in tears – and that's what's happening now.

"We don't want to be the ones to close the theatre, but a town like Ipswich cannot support the theatre at this rate indefinitely," he said.

Is it right to subsidise shows at the Regent and Corn Exchange? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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