Fringe Box



Letter: Give Council Data They Need Over Plans For Electric Theatre

Published on: 20 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 20 Feb, 2016

From Mandy Grealis, chairman of the Guildford Amateur Theatre Association (GATA)

Guildford Amateur Theatre Association (GATA) welcomes the public consultation on the future of the Electric Theatre and strongly urges the people of Guildford to get involved and give Guildford Borough Council (GBC) the data they need to move forward in their decision making.

Electric_Theatre_7_1024_768_80It can be argued that the existence of a consultation is partly due to public pressure on GBC and GATA has been overwhelmed by the level of public support – it is therefore vital that the community use this opportunity to share all of its opinions.

GATA has had feedback from many individuals that the questions are confusing and poorly worded – how are people meant to know their preference or the ramifications of each option?

As well as filling in the questions we are advising people to use the comment box at the end to articulate all of their feelings about the Electric – what they love, what could be done better, why Guildford needs it and what they’d like to see performed there.

Qualitative data is equally valuable and while GBC are asking for ‘feedback’ closed and carefully constructed questions do not truly capture the whole picture.

The Electric Theatre is far from niche catering to GATA, book, music and film festival audiences as well as hosting comedy, jazz, local dance schools, youth theatre and charity events.

It could be even more accessible with the right management but GBC will not be able to consider this option without clear support from the people of Guildford that it is needed and wanted.

While it is fantastic to see so many interested parties commenting on the future of the venue it is too early for bidders to be building alternative support bases as GBC have now made it clear that those bids were simply to test the market – GATA reiterate that we are keen to work in partnership to ensure the future of performing arts and community theatre but encourage people to fill in the official GBC consultation which will feed directly to the working group at GBC.

Finally, we invite GBC to host a public meeting to update residents and potential bidders on next steps and to allay fears and confusion over the process.

Communication and clarity from GBC has so far been lacking during this review and a meeting like this would be a golden opportunity for an open conversation with all of those who are passionate about the future of the Electric Theatre – whatever that future may be.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS adds: the deadline for those who want to complete Guildford Borough Council’s on-line survey for its consultation on the future of the Electric Theatre is February 29. Click here to go to the details on the council’s website.

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Responses to Letter: Give Council Data They Need Over Plans For Electric Theatre

  1. Cllr Geoff Davis Reply

    February 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Mandy is right – views on the future of the Electric Theatre through the current public consultation are vital now.

    Our cross-party working group is awaiting sight of all the responses, so we can look carefully at every one.

    By all accounts, there is good feedback already, but time is short to make any remaining views known.

    Our Yvonne Arnaud/Electric working group are then charged with preparing a report for the council’s Executive, with recommendations as to the way forward for the Electric.

    Please don’t forget that the Electric, as presently structured, is costing GBC well over £20,000 per month.

    Any rental income which might be available would assist the financial challenges somewhat.

    Cllr Geoff Davis, Holy Trinity ward is the chairman of the cross-party working group on the Yvonne Arnaud and Electric Theatres.

    • C Stevens Reply

      February 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      In reply to Cllr Davis.

      GBC is spending £5.125 million this year on art, museums, theatres, public entertainment, parks and open spaces, sports and recreation facilities and tourism.

      That is well over £400,000 per month. I’m sure “any rental income” would assist the “financial challenge” of that figure somewhat, so how come the Electric is the only target? Isn’t there rental income to be had from elsewhere?

      And let’s not forget, either, that the Yvonne Arnaud is costing GBC well over £25,000 per month this year and G Live in excess of £27,000 each month of its 10-year agreement with HQ Theatres. Of course, if G Live makes a post-subsidy profit that is shared between HQ Theatres and GBC.

      The profit share ratio is HQ Theatres 80%, GBC 20%. On the face of it that’s not good deal for GBC on what is no more than a return of its own money.

      So I’d suggest that GBC is very careful before it starts entering into any 10-year agreements about the Electric. Partially because many people who live here want the Electric to be run as it is, and partially because GBC may just not be savvy enough to get the best deal for the community. See above.

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