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Profits show theatre back from the brink

PUBLISHED: 20:26 04 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:34 03 March 2010

A THEATRE that looked certain to close just two years ago due to crippling debts has announced record profits.

Accounts for the last financial year at Sudbury's Quay Theatre show a profit of £17,000 - the highest in its 22-year history.

A THEATRE that looked certain to close just two years ago due to crippling debts has announced record profits.

Accounts for the last financial year at Sudbury's Quay Theatre show a profit of £17,000 - the highest in its 22-year history.

The news marks an amazing turn around in the playhouse's fortunes over the past two years and director Robert Benton says the future of the establishment is now looking secure.

Mr Benton was called in by theatre trustees in 2000 in a last-ditch bid to save the theatre from what looked like certain closure.

At the time the playhouse had historic bank and brewery debts of nearly £230,000 and all the grant-making organisations, which were vital to the Quay's survival, suspended their donations.

The theatre once had nine full-time members of staff, but when the extent of the financial situation was revealed two years ago, Mr Benton was the only person left on the books.

Remarkably Mr Benton has since managed to turned around the theatre's fortunes in dramatic fashion. He has assured that the theatre has a full programme of events for each month of the year. Performances by some of the country's top theatre companies and appearances of famous personalities, such as Griff Rhys-Jones and Paul Daniels, has had people flocking back to the theatre.

"We are delighted with the profits over the last year, it is the best ever achieved by the theatre. It has been a lot of hard work, but the future is looking very bright at the Quay," said Mr Benton.

The performance over the last two years has allowed the theatre to reduce its historic debts by more than £60,000 and more importantly put it in a position to keep paying them.

The theatre now owes a total of around £157,000 in bank loans and a debt to Greene King, and the amount is steadily being reduced.

Local authority grants have also been increased from £37,000 to 63,000 a year and the theatre now has four full members of staff and three part-time.

Mr Benton added: "We have re-launched the theatre as a business and the best way forward is to prove we can continue to do it. There is still a lot of hard work to do, but if we continue making profits the theatre will remain safe."

The theatre is about to launch its full Autumn programme and top attractions include former Bond Girl Honour Blackman, jazz legend Terry Lightfoot, well known 70s band, the Strawbes and Reduced Shakespeare Company, which has recently been performing in London's West End, will return to the theatre.

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