Passionate team is needed for the Spa Pavilion
HOW dare councillors decide to get rid of our seafront theatre?
It costs Suffolk Coastal �242,000 a year to provide the Spa Pavilion – an attraction for the resort providing a range of shows to bring in visitors, and a base for our am-dram groups.
That sum is 1.75 per cent of the council’s budget.
The people of Felixstowe provide around 30pc of the council tax for the district.
It does make me wonder sometimes what I pay my district council tax for – apart from having my bins emptied (and these days you have to sort the rubbish and put the bin out yourself).
My theory is that one day we will pay council tax simply to pay the wages of those staff collecting the council tax.
Of course, others will applaud the fact that Suffolk Coastal’s council tax is very low and the authority is debt-free, thanks to the �30 million it gained some years ago after selling off its council houses.
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However, that means it has very little available to spend for our benefit – except on those things it must do by law.
Now it’s looking to cut even further – and that’s why it claims it can no longer afford to run the much-loved Spa Pavilion.
It is a shocking decision because surely the council has a duty to enable us to enjoy the arts as much as it does sports and other activities.
This building should be an arts hub for our community.
For many years I have written that the venue needs re-modelling.
Cut it down to 500 seats – ideal for our amateur companies, for plays, as a cinema showing arts film nights, and an intimate setting for bands and comedians, many of which love performing in those kind of theatres with the promise of a wonderful atmosphere from sell-out crowds.
The extra space created by cutting the auditorium could be used for a dance studio, art gallery, conference venue and meeting place for all kinds of activities, including poetry readings, writers’ groups, art clubs and drama rehearsals.
There is huge opportunity to make better use of the restaurant and bar with its fabulous seafront position (very much like the Pitlochry Festival Theatre which overlooks the River Tummel), and possibly a gift shop could be included.
What is needed now is a trust to be formed with desire and vision and a real heart for our community.
It could be a blessing in disguise. Let’s hope all is not lost.