St Albans theatre 'will not be replaced by cinema'

PUBLISHED: 12:39 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

The Maltings Arts Theatre could be showing movies

The Maltings Arts Theatre could be showing movies

FEARS that the Maltings Arts Theatre is to be transformed into a cinema at the expense of its ongoing theatrical productions have been quashed. As first revealed by the Herts Advertiser, a new business plan has been proposed for the St Albans venue which

FEARS that the Maltings Arts Theatre is to be transformed into a cinema at the expense of its ongoing theatrical productions have been quashed.

As first revealed by the Herts Advertiser, a new business plan has been proposed for the St Albans venue which could see it being used to show films, and many people have taken this as an indication that theatrical productions are to be scrapped.

But council culture boss Cllr Melvyn Teare has promised that revenue generated from screenings would be used to swell the coffers of the heavily-subsidised complex and secure the long-term future of the theatre.

St Albans culture and heritage portfolio holder Cllr Teare said: "The subsidy we pay the Maltings Arts Theatre is around £150,000 a year and we know that we have to look at the programming and space to see what we can offer in there to make better use of it.

"But I must reassure residents that we are delivering the same volume of theatre that we have delivered in the past.

"We will just be filling up the empty spaces in our programme with showings of films.

"The same mix of shows will be available but this is an additional source of entertainment which we think will please people, who will be able to nip in and see a film for a fiver on their doorstep in the city centre and still have time for a drink afterwards."

Cllr Teare will be presenting the new business plan and format for the Maltings Arts Theatre to Cabinet next month.

Regular theatregoer and St Albans Civic Society member Marion Hammant welcomed the news: "I am glad that The Maltings is adding films for everyone, both classic and current but please not a complete cinematic makeover.

"It would be crazy to restrict this life-enhancing operation.

"If, as rumours suggested, it were to have become a film-only venue, it would have been a huge loss for the city and given the lie to the notion that the council cares for the cultural enrichment of its residents."

She added that the variety on offer at The Maltings is what makes it so special, catering as it does for professional theatre, music of all kinds, comedy and poetry nights and arts and drama programmes and classes for children. It is also available to hire for community-based events such as the recent Civic Awards.

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