Spa turned down

THANK you, but no thanks - that was the message from Felixstowe's community leaders today after an invite to possibly run the resort's theatre.Town councillors were asked if they would be interested in taking over the management of the 919-seater venue when the current contract with ClearChannel expires next year.

THANK you, but no thanks - that was the message from Felixstowe's community leaders today after an invite to possibly run the resort's theatre.

Town councillors were asked if they would be interested in taking over the management of the 919-seater venue when the current contract with ClearChannel expires next year.

But they have turned down the offer - believing the best way forward is for a major professional entertainment company to continue operating the theatre.

The council has expressed interest in returning some of the resort's services to the Town Hall, but after an exploratory meeting with Suffolk Coastal felt the Spa is just too big a project.


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Doreen Savage, chairman of the resort regeneration group, said: “I think management of a theatre is a very specialist business and if you don't do it properly you get into all sorts of trouble. I really don't think it is something this council should be involved in.”

Former mayor Andy Smith said it would be useful to have a Felixstowe input into the management but the theatre was not really a resource for the town and should serve the whole district, attracting audiences from all over the county.

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“The Spa can only be taken forward and developed and expanded for events and conferences if it is done in the context of a much wider range of policies and developments,” he said.

“It would be conceivable for us to manage it, but if we wanted to integrate with the district it would be perceived by some as Felixstowe wants this and Felixstowe wants that, and that's not a viable way forward - we need to bid for a massive improvement in Felixstowe plc, not fragment it.”

Councillor Malcolm Minns said the council would need to employ experts to help it manage the venue.

“I think our response has to be an unqualified no - we are not equipped to do it. We might think it's a routine job, but then wait and see what happens when something goes wrong and things can go very wrong in the entertainment industry,” he said.

Suffolk Coastal is “testing the water” to see who be prepared to run the Spa.

It wants more quality shows and a more diverse programme generating larger audiences, and to cut the £200,000 subsidy it pays the operator by around half.

Six organisations have expressed an interest, and there are moves to set up a charitable trust or “community interest company” to put in a bid.

Who do you think should run the Spa Pavilion? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.spapavilion.co.uk.

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