Blakehay Theatre to receive thousands of pounds in investment
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 July 2016
A theatre in Weston-super-Mare will receive thousands of pounds in investment to place it at the heart of a cultural quarter as part of the town’s regeneration.
The Blakehay Theatre in Wadham Street, which is run by Weston Town Council, will also receive a dedicated budget to allow it to buy-in productions and expand its offering.
Council clerk Malcolm Nicholson said the investment was about ‘supporting the vision of the town’.
The work will include restoring the theatre’s upstairs space, where a stage will be re-installed in the existing studio.
At present, Weston College uses the theatre during the week, but this means it is not often available for other groups and productions.
By refurbishing the upstairs studio, the council will be able to increase the amount of space it has available.
The room could also receive a movable wall which could be opened to create two separate rehearsal spaces.
The floor may also be changed to make it more suitable for dancers to use.
Mr Nicholson said: “It is really about the future of the town.
“We want improvement of a high-quality town centre, with leisure facilities and good-quality housing and good-quality cultural facilities and art and performance.
“This is an exciting future for the Blakehay.
“But is not just a thing on its own. It is fundamentally about supporting the vision for the town.
“It is about supporting the development of the town centre as a place to live, work and play.”
The work is expected to cost around £30,000.
The theatre will also receive a dedicated £12,000 budget to allow it to buy-in shows, starting from the 2018-19 financial year.
Mr Nicholson said the Blakehay would complement the offering at The Playhouse and would not be in competition with it.
Cllr Michal Kus said: “It is clear all councillors want to make a success of the Blakehay.”
And Cllr Peter Fox said: “It is a community asset we should cherish.
“We need to make sure the Blakehay is a success for the people of Weston.”
The council bought the Blakehay in 2003.
It subsidised the theatre with £100,000 in 2009, but this amount has since been reduced to £45,000.
The council has been reviewing the services it offers, and Mr Nicholson believes the theatre will break even in the next five years.
The RAFA band will have to move its equipment out of a storeroom at the theatre as a result of the changes.
The council agreed it will work with the band to find it an alternative space.
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