Repair bid for Wolsey

IPSWICH taxpayers are today set to help save one of town's theatres from a leaky roof by forking out £500,000 on repairs.Replacing the problematic 25-year-old roof at the New Wolsey Theatre has been deemed "urgent and critical" by Ipswich Borough Council.

IPSWICH taxpayers are today set to help save one of town's theatres from a leaky roof by forking out £500,000 on repairs.

Replacing the problematic 25-year-old roof at the New Wolsey Theatre has been deemed "urgent and critical" by Ipswich Borough Council.

The council is keen to see the roof - which currently leaks onto both the stage area and auditorium - replaced as the first step in a £3million improvement scheme proposed by the theatre.

Other work set to follow includes new seating, replacing heating and lighting systems and a new lift.

John Clough, head of leisure development at the council, said: "The theatre was built in 1979 and now, 25 years on, many elements of the physical structure, plant and equipment and fixtures and fittings have reached the end of their expected life.

"The expectations and requirements of current and potential customers, as well as provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act also mean significant improvements need to be made to the accessibility and facilities of the theatre."

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The borough council is considering giving £500,000 to the theatre's project if Suffolk County Council and Arts Council England East (ACEE) pledge the same help. ACEE has already vowed to contribute.

Ipswich band D taxpayers would give the equivalent of 46pence to the project in the next financial year, when the council plans to hand over £350,000.

By March 2007, when the full amount is due to be paid, the same taxpayers would have paid out a total of £1.25 each.

The Evening Star revealed in October the theatre was making plans for a facelift.

Outgoing chairman Peter Phillips said the theatre, forced to close temporarily between 1999 and 2001, was now on a firm financial footing.

But while cash from ticket sales and day-to-day income could finance the running of the theatre, it could not fund large capital projects.

The borough council has pledged its commitment to arts in the town.

Mr Clough said: "The New Wolsey Theatre's current offer is unique and complements the range of facilities and performances available elsewhere in the town.

"During the recent review of arts and entertainments there was strong support for the theatre as a key venue in the overall mix of arts and entertainments in the town."

Councillors will discuss the proposals at a meeting of its executive committee on Tuesday.

What do you think about the money being spent on the New Wolsey Theatre? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK:

www.ipswich.gov.uk

www.wolseytheatre.co.uk

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