Fringe Box



Electric Theatre: Council To Explore Leasing Options

Published on: 25 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 9 May, 2016

Electric_Theatre_7_1024_768_80Following more than 15 months deliberation, Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has decided to explore options for leasing the venue to an outside organisation as a theatre with community use. 

The decision was taken at last week’s Executive meeting (April 19).

The lead councillor for economic development, heritage and tourism, Cllr Geoff Davis (Con, Holy Trinity), said: “We are putting in place an approach that should reduce the financial pressures for the council while maintaining the site as a performing arts venue with community use”.

Cllr Geoff Davis

Cllr Geoff Davis

A council spokesperson said: “In the consultation, we asked what people wanted from the theatre and the level of council involvement to make sure it is run in the best possible way for the future.

“We also consulted our Citizens’ Panel and stakeholders. Feedback showed that 9 in 10 respondents want to keep it primarily as a performing arts venue keeping some community use, and over half (58%) want the council to lease the building to an external organisation ensuring some community use.”

Cllr Davis continues: “We would like to thank everyone for taking part in the consultation and telling us what they think about the future of the theatre. We have carefully considered all your feedback and it has helped inform decisions on the future”.

Not all councillors agreed with all aspects of the report or the interpretation of the consultation results.

Cllr Tony Phillips

Cllr Tony Phillips

Cllr Tony Phillips (Lib Dem, Onslow) said at the Executive meeting: “I am disappointed but not surprised that after the initial announcement by the lead member that the running of the Electric Theatre would be passed to the ACM, council officers took control of the reins and we were proceeding at a steady canter.

“However, following a public consultation exercise, where members of the public favoured, ‘Option D – running of the theatre by the council,’ we seem to have veered off course as the inclusion of the ACM results have skewed the result to, ‘Option C – lease the building to an external organisation,’ and although I know you are considering all offers, the word on the street is that the ACM will end up running the Electric Theatre.”

Explaining the background to the Executive’s decision the GBC spokesperson said: “We set up a cross-party working group in January 2015 to look at the cultural offer across the whole borough, including future use of The Electric Theatre and its funding.

“The group’s recommendation to the Executive was to explore the process to lease the building to an external organisation ensuring some community use, and to balance this with the financial pressures the council is facing.

“Over the past 15 months the working group has considered the future operating model of the performing arts venue and worked with stakeholders and other organisations. Made up of officers, councillors and an independent consultant advising on arts and culture, the group evaluated the potential options.”

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