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Cash injection from council saves Marine Theatre

THE Marine Theatre has been saved from closure thanks to a £15,000 cash injection from Lyme Regis Town Council.

Marine Theatre

Councillors were told at a meeting on 1 February 2017 the struggling theatre would close its doors the following day unless the emergency funds were approved.

The council has already awarded the theatre £30,000 per year until 2020, but has now agreed to pull forward a lump sum of £15,000, in what councillors called the ‘last chance’ for the venue to make the business work.

The trustees last week appealed to the council for a ‘quick decision’ by the end of January, when the theatre would run out of funds.

Speaking at the council meeting, Cllr Steve Miller said: “We need to make a decision tonight on whether the Marine Theatre closes its doors tomorrow or its new trustees are given a chance to turn the business around.”

During the discussions, there were calls from some councillors for a town referendum on the future of the theatre.

Cllr Daryl Turner said: “I think we should have a referendum and let people decide if they want to spend their money on the theatre.”

In agreeing to advance funding, members wanted a clear message to be sent to the trustees.

Cllr Brian Larcombe said: “This advance of grant is as far as we can go. We are doing as much as we can and this is the last chance.”

Speaking after the meeting, committee chairman and deputy mayor Cllr Michaela Ellis said: “In recognition of the substantial financial support the council has given to the Marine Theatre over many years, the council has offered to advance a portion of the existing grant.

“While this is not additional funding, the council feels its contributions are substantial for a town as small as Lyme.

“The council does not have endless financial resources and must spend its money wisely for the benefit of the whole town.

“We hope the payment will help the theatre resolve its financial struggles and become more sustainable.”   

Members agreed to bring forward £15,000 of grant payments to Lyme Arts Community Trust from the final two payments it would have received in 2019/20.

This was on the condition the trust also raises £15,000 by 1 October 2017, and puts £1,500 from future town council grant payments in to a capital reserve from the same date.

Members agreed the funding should only be released if the trust provided a list of its debtors and creditors for scrutiny by council officers.

It was also agreed the council should have two seats on the trust’s board and monthly copies of management accounts would be provided.