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The show WILL go on as threatened theatre is given £70,000 lifeline by council

PUBLISHED: 14:20 11 January 2019

Debbie Thompson, theatre director of St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth Picture: Nick Butcher

Debbie Thompson, theatre director of St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

A coastal theatre facing an uncertain future has been given a £70,000 lifeline by councillors.

There were fears St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth could be facing its final curtain, after a report to the borough council’s policy and resources committee revealed the financial position of the trust had left it in danger of closure.

However, its short term future has now been secured, after the committee agreed to award it more than £70,000 of funding over the next three years.

After discussing the report behind closed doors, it was agreed the council would provide St George’s Trust with a grant of £27,000 to cover running costs for the remainder of the financial year.

The committee also agreed to continue providing a £25,000 management fee to the trust for the next two financial years.

Last week, a confidential report seen by this newspaper also revealed the committee had been asked to write off a debt of almost £21,000 for unpaid electricity bills.

However, the committee instead agreed to hold this debt and recover it at a future date - rather than writing it off completely.

A decision over a potential further £80,000 in grants to match an Arts Council bid was deferred until after its outcome becomes clear.

Carl Smith, who chaired the section of the meeting, said the decisions would help provide a “fresh start” for the theatre.

He said: “Our hope is that this will help the theatre to move forward. The trust has had some tough times but hopefully it will have a bright future now.

“None of us want to see the theatre close so felt it was important to continue supporting it.”

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “The council’s support for the next stage of St George’s story is extremely welcome, and will help us to further develop our popular youth theatre and community groups.

“We welcomed thousands of people for our family and adult pantomimes over Christmas and we will continue to provide an exciting and diverse range of shows for audiences across the borough, with tickets already being picked up for our new 2019 programme.”

The decisions also saw the committee agree that councillors would no longer serve as trustees for the theatre and would instead form a liaison board to work alongside the theatre trust.

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