BREAKING NEWS: Worthing’s theatres to remain in-house

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AFTER months of waiting Worthing council has decided its three theatres will continue to be run in-house.

The council said none of the other bidders’ proposals were offering the savings required.

The theatre’s management team have been asked to prepare a business plan that delivers “substantial savings” and stops the current high subsidies levels necessary to keep the venues open.

A spokeswoman for the council said the business plan will look into offering a substantially improved and more attractive theatre experience.

This will include things like upgrading the buildings, particularly the Connaught and Pavilion theatres, using council funds, and introducing a small ticket levy.

There also plans to create a more modern dining experience, and offering more options to the customer, such as buying tickets and booking meals online, and possibly installing 3D at the Connaught.

A spokeswoman said: “It is anticipated a substantial increase in income from running the theatres could be achieved, which would be put towards any improvements.”

Paul Yallop, leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “A great deal of work has been undertaken to ensure sufficient resources are available to continue current operations until 2013.

“Over the next few months we will be taking a hard look at the programming of the venues.

“The review has shown the Assembly Hall to be a great community asset which needs to be utilised in a more efficient way.

“It has always been our intention to maintain good theatre provision in Worthing but we can’t ignore the fact that the level of public subsidy necessary to do this is unaffordable in the medium to long term.

“I really look forward to working with the theatre staff over the next year or so to help bring their business plan to fruition.

“I also hope to involve local groups who have shown great commitment to saving the theatres. I am sure the public will show their support by enjoying the excellent upcoming shows including the Christmas pantomimes.”

Councillor Mary Lermitte, member of the Theatres Working Group, set up in March this year, added: “In May we asked for expressions of interest to run all or part of Worthing’s theatres. 17 bids were received resulting in the detailed consideration of three serious proposals. And although the group was impressed with the level of interest and standard of the three proposals, it decided, after very careful analysis and deliberation, that none of them would both innovate the service and reduce the net cost to the council tax payer over the next few years.

“I would like to take this opportunity though to thank those short-listed for their interest.”

The Theatres Working Group will remain in place to ensure the targets set out in the business plan are met.

The full report concerning the future of the Worthing Theatres operation/management will be considered by the Joint Strategic Committee, which meets at 6.30pm at the Adur Civic Centre, Ham Road, Shoreham.

The report can be found on www.worthing.gov.uk