Steading the future of the theatre

SWEEPING changes to the management of the ailing Ipswich Film Theatre could be made in a bid to secure its future.

SWEEPING changes to the management of the ailing Ipswich Film Theatre could be made in a bid to secure its future.

At a meeting of Ipswich Borough Council's executive committee last night, recommendations that moves to save the cinema should be stepped up, were given the go-ahead.

The future of the council run theatre has been in doubt because low visitor numbers have meant it has consistently made losses but a public consultation revealed there is widespread support for the film theatre.

One recommendation councillors agreed to could see major changes to the management of the venue, with plans now underway to find a private sector partner to manage it.

The film theatre is managed by the council but it is believed professional management is needed to improve the range of films on offer and encourage more visits than the current 40,000 a year.

Councillor Judy Terry, responsible for leisure, said: “The next stage is that we are going to seek a partner who can develop the film theatre.

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“We need to get visits up, There is a core audience who come from across the region of about 10,000 to 12,000 people who come a few times a year. To make it viable, a normal commercial operation would expect 100,000 visits a year.”

Other agreed recommendations included new screening times and the introduction of screenings that would encourage mothers to bring their babies with them.

The consultation also revealed widespread support for the film theatre to either stay in it's current venue or for a new cinema to be built.

“People want to stay here as long as possible,” said Mrs Terry.

“But they really want a new build and the problem is getting from A to B and so that's why we feel we need a specialised partner to help us run the cinema in a way that we don't have the expertise to do.”

Talks with potential operators have already been started and it is hoped a deal will be reached by early next year.

Do you use the film theatre? How do you think it's future should be shaped? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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