WISBECH: A poignant letter by the former acting theatre manager at the Angles Theatre

PUBLISHED: 16:46 07 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:50 02 June 2010

MAY I offer my warmest congratulations to the volunteer team at the Angles Theatre, Wisbech. It hardly seems possible that it is now over five years ago since I had the enormous privilege of launching the theatre s silver anniversary season, under the c

dance sessions at the angles theatre

funding bids for fenland

MAY I offer my warmest congratulations to the volunteer team at the Angles Theatre, Wisbech.

It hardly seems possible that it is now over five years ago since I had the enormous privilege of launching the theatre's silver anniversary season, under the chairmanship of founder member Paul Mayer, whilst working with another remarkable team of fellow volunteers.

Some things never change.

The need for this historic venue to continue trading is greater than ever, as it offers a place of safety for the training of over 400 children and young people, from across the entire district, in the performing arts.

If it were sited in any other district, the fact that the Angles Theatre is the third oldest surviving theatre in the entire country would be celebrated, and heralded, for the opportunities offered to such large numbers of our youngsters.

Yet, here in Fenland, the district council continue to resist offering the theatre anything other than a token gesture of financial support each and every year.

Five years ago an elected member of the then Fenland District Council interrupted the final curtain call, at the end of the silver anniversary performances, and he stood centre stage to announce to the captured audience that FDC were to make a "substantial increase" in funding following such a glowing and critically acclaimed silver anniversary season.

As a result of the relentless hard work by the theatre team, the district council had decided to increase funding from the pittance of £7,500 per annum to the grand total of £10,000 per annum, and the announcement earned the elected member a generous round of applause.

My heart sank. When a "substantial" increase was mentioned.

I had thought that the councillor was serious. In reality, another £2,500 was almost derisory when the annual funding in place was already so very small.

As of 2007 it costs over £110,000 per year just to keep the Angles Theatre open.

It has often been rumoured that, had the theatre been built in March, instead of Wisbech, and then funding would have been decidedly more realistic and generous.

Sadly, the theatre occupies a historic site, which cannot simply be knocked down and rebuilt, in March, in the same way that the local college is about to be relocated.

The theatre has already dramatically reduced the selection of theatre offered to the theatre going public when compared to five years ago. If the district council continues to offer nothing more than a token gesture to the financial survival of this remarkable venue, one day the Fenland people, and their children, will be reduced to remembering and lamenting the days when we used to have our very own historic venue here in Fenland.

MO STEWART

Former Acting Theatre Manager


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