Investment call to safeguard theatre’s future

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Staff reporter

MAJOR investment is needed in Clwyd Theatr Cymru to safeguard its future and make it fit for the 21st century, it has been claimed.

Private sector income through weddings and conferences could be one way of generating cash for the Mold-based arts centre.

The future of the Flintshire Council-governed theatre came under the spotlight yesterday as a new three-year business plan was adopted.

Cllr Tony Sharps, executive member for environment, said the theatre was a “valuable asset”.

He said: “If we want to be able to maintain it to high quality, we won’t unless we get a business plan and put it in profit. The one way we can do that is with the private sector.

“When it comes to performances it is extremely popular, but the building is in disrepair and it needs extra money.

“The catering facilities and shop need to be looked at along with weddings and conferences.”

A report to the executive committee described the theatre as a “corporate risk” because its buildings are a “liability” and funding “has not been secure”.

Objectives in the plan include minimising the impact of the economic downturn, ensuring funding from the Arts Council of Wales is optimised and to make sure council funding is used efficiently.

It also sets out a new strategy for the use of function rooms by widening the customer base, to maximise sales and profitability from the theatre shop and to adopt a more commercial approach to front of house trading.

Cllr Sharps said: “This is a step in the right direction, but unless it has a major facelift it will disappear. We can’t just keep subsidising it by a million pounds a year.

“This is the start of the long term future for the theatre.”

The theatre is second only to the Wales Millennium Centre in producing art with a huge range of activities including drama, music, dance, comedy and film.

It will be required to save £30,000 in 2012/13 with a loss of three per cent of its income from Flintshire Council.

In a forward to the business plan Terry Hands, the theatre’s director, wrote: “All our efforts will be focused to ensure Clwyd Theatr Cymru continues to deliver world-class drama to larger audiences.

“Behind the scenes we will work to ensure our financial position is robust. As time moves on we will work in partnership with Flintshire Council and the Arts Council Wales to develop our building into an exciting new home fit for a 21st century theatre.”

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