Spotlight falls on town's arts scene

IPSWICH'S cultural future is set to come under the spotlight over the next seven days.On Wednesday councillors are to have their first opportunity to debate the long-awaited report on the council's arts and entertainment strategies.

IPSWICH'S cultural future is set to come under the spotlight over the next seven days.

On Wednesday councillors are to have their first opportunity to debate the long-awaited report on the council's arts and entertainment strategies.

And next Monday – September 20 – the Ipswich Arts Association is hosting an open meeting to discuss the options at the Town Hall.

However the whole picture could changed radically after Wednesday's council meeting because it is expected that Labour will lose power at Civic Centre and be replaced by a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.

The Conservatives have been drawing up their own arts strategy for the town – although they aren't planning to unveil it until they control the executive committee at Civic Centre.

The arts review to be debated on Wednesday has four options:

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1, Leave things as they are at present – officers warn this would do nothing to reduce spiralling costs.

2, Develop The Regent, Corn Exchange and Wolsey Theatre – officers warn it is unlikely the council could get enough money for this from private sources and would have to put up council tax bills.

3, Develop the Corn Exchange but sell-off or mothball the Regent.

4, Develop the Regent but find an alternative use, or sell off, the Corn Exchange.

The Conservatives have pledged to maintain the Corn Exchange but they have said that the Regent would have to be handed over to an independent trust or even closed altogether because of its mounting losses.

Their Liberal Democrat partners also believe it is necessary to maintain the Corn Exchange – but that the Regent needs a major rethink.

Before any decision is taken on the future of the arts and entertainments facilities in Ipswich, there will be a public consultation period.

A further report will then be considered by the council before any final decisions are taken.

The Ipswich Arts Association meeting will be held at the Council Chamber in the Town Hall on Monday evening at 2.30pm.

Anyone can go along to express a view – not just members of the association.

What should happen to the arts in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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