Regent revamp on the cards

A MAJOR cash injection could see massive and much needed refurbishment work transform Ipswich's biggest theatre, it has been revealed today.A bid for half a million pounds has been put forward to the budget makers at Ipswich Borough Council and if successful would see enormous improvements made to the town's Regent Theatre - including new seats and an improved sound system.

A MAJOR cash injection could see massive and much needed refurbishment work transform Ipswich's biggest theatre, it has been revealed today.

A bid for half a million pounds has been put forward to the budget makers at Ipswich Borough Council and if successful would see enormous improvements made to the town's Regent Theatre - including new seats and an improved sound system.

Council budget bosses will this week decide whether the money can be found and it will then be up to the council's executive committee to give the plans the go-ahead.

The council's portfolio holder for leisure, Judy Terry, is backing the bid by Regent manager Hazel Clover to be given the funds.


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Speaking exclusively to the Evening Star, Mrs Terry and Ms Clover said they were optimistic their bid would be successful and that the new seats were vital to the theatre's continued success.

Mrs Terry said: “It is a continuing of our refurbishment process and we have already spent £600,000 over the last two years, but a lot of what we have already done has been health and safety work and so the visiting public can't see what has been done.”

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Ms Clover said the new seats would enable the theatre to continue to attract new audiences.

She said: “I think people would feel that they are getting a nicer experience when they come here.

“We have improved the programme and have built trust with producers who have reputations and investments to protect. We've got one of the most varied programmes of anywhere in the country but there is still the opportunity to take in more shows and that's where this next phase will come in, we will attract more audiences and that in itself will allow us to make more improvements.”

Mrs Terry and Ms Clover must now wait to find out if they can forge ahead with the plans, which are now in the hands of the council's budget working group who will assess the bid and work out a shortlist of projects deserving of the funds.

Mrs Terry said she was determined to help find funding for the Regent and added she wanted to see refurbishment on the scale seen at the town's other big venue, The New Wolsey Theatre.

The council has already given £500,000 to the New Wolsey for it's refurbishment over the last two years, but while that theatre also attracts Arts Council funding, the Regent is dependant solely on the council.

If approved by the budget makers and, later, the council's executive committee, the work would get underway in the summer of next year.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

DID YOU KNOW?

The 1,725 seat Regent is a grade two listed building and the 75-year-old seats are part of that listing. The theatre has sought advice from English Heritage on what kind of seats they will be allowed to put in and how the work can be completed.

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