Fringe Box



Letter: The Council’s Theatre Group is Exceeding Its Remit

Published on: 24 Nov, 2015
Updated on: 24 Nov, 2015

Electric_Theatre_7_1024_768_80From Gerald Bland

The 2,200 petitioners supporting the Guildford Amateur Theatre Association petition, and other concerned local residents, might usefully look into the background to the creation of the council’s Electric Theatre and Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Working Group.

It was set out in the report of the executive head of development to the Customer and Community Scrutiny Committee on 13th January 2015.

To quote:

3.4 The plan is now to set up a working group with key Theatre stakeholders, along with Councillors recommended by the Customer and Scrutiny Committee.

3.5 The Working Group will look at the following:

  • Recommendations in the Beckwith Consulting Report
  • Future Operating model of the Theatre
  • Key aspects in the development of the Theatre’s business plan

3.6 Following meetings with the Working Group, Theatre management, along with the Executive Head and Lead Councillor, will develop the Theatre’s medium term business plan for approval and implementation as soon as possible”

With the Electric Theatre being an agenda item for tomorrow’s Guildford Borough Council Executive meeting, I urge the Executive to take the opportunity of reminding the working group that its remit is limited to developing a medium term business plan for the continued use of this core operational asset.

I don’t believe it was intended for the group to be so closely led or influenced by the Lead Councillor for Economic Development, Tourism and Heritage. Rather, it must include the views  of ‘key theatre stakeholders’ and report to him.

Any endorsement of the proposal to let this landmark site at an initial rent of £125,000 for 25 years or any lesser period including rent reviews is not only outside the group’s remit but strikes at the heart of the Town Centre Masterplan, just consulted on, which envisages the creation of a new riverside waterfront in this important location between the High Street and railway station.

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Responses to Letter: The Council’s Theatre Group is Exceeding Its Remit

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    November 25, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I would say that the remit of the entire council is to carefully manage the expenditure of public funds and to my mind, subsidising amateur theatricals is not a valid use of public money.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, amateur actors take part in productions because it’s their hobby and presumably they enjoy it. I don’t expect my hobbies to be subsidised at public expense.

    I’d rather the subsidy made to these groups (and indeed G Live and the Yvonne Arnaud) was spent elsewhere, perhaps on adult social care.

    • Anna-Marie Davis Reply

      November 29, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      What do you think about councils using public money to sponsor arms industry PR shows?

  2. Gordon Bridger Reply

    November 27, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Mr Middleton is entitled to object to paying around £5 a year to provide a venue for theatrical activities but I think it is very good value and so do the 2,000 and more people who have signed a petition.

    This theatre exists as result of GATA and other persuading the council to convert it. The council should continue to run it.

  3. George Potter Reply

    November 30, 2015 at 11:14 am

    David Middleton should note that the borough council, who currently help fund the Electric Theatre, aren’t responsible for adult and social care. That comes under the purview of the county council.

    So any saving made by cutting subsidies for the arts in Guildford, subsidies which I’m sure result in far more money coming into the area than the face cost of the subsidies, would not be able to go towards adult and social care.

    The saving could, however, make a tiny contribution to the predicted £4 million cost of our new local plan. A cost inflated by initial proposals that weren’t fit for purpose and which had to be taken back to the drawing board due to what some might call incompetence by those currently running the council.

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