How Wellingborough’s Castle theatre will be run to be discussed

The Castle theatre in Wellingborough
The Castle theatre in Wellingborough

Councillors are set to discuss the running of Wellingborough’s Castle theatre next week.

The management and operation of the theatre will be discussed at a full meeting of Wellingborough Council on Tuesday.

It follows the theatre’s closure by the administrator in June and its re-opening under temporary management by the council in August.

Councillors will be asked to consider plans for the medium term management of the theatre from January 2017 while new permanent arrangements are put in place.

A report prepared ahead of the meeting says: “The council took control of the theatre in June 2016 after its closure by the administrator, using external expertise to ensure that it could continue to operate in the short term.

“This is not a core function of the council, so could not be incorporated into any of the existing services.

“In order for the theatre to survive and to provide the services required by local communities in the future it will need to be managed by an organisation which can demonstrate the necessary professional expertise, whilst also evidencing the ability to run it as a going concern.

“Members are asked to consider how this might best be achieved.”

Councillors will be asked to agree to a number of resolutions, including:

1) Agree that officers submit a report in the new year which advises the council on the actions required to:

- seek a trust, company or organisation to manage and operate The Castle theatre based on a comprehensive brief and tender specification that results in a sound business plan which meets the needs of the council and the community by taking a ‘hybrid’ commercial/community management approach

- produce a cultural/arts strategy which supports a coherent approach to the support of community arts provision across the borough

- determine the extent of funding of the arts in the borough, to replace previous subsidies for the operation of the theatre

2) Set up an advisory group

3) Instruct officers to engage a theatre specialist to work with the advisory group and produce a brief and tender specification with a view to advertising in March 2017 and a contract awarded by December 2017 or as soon as possible afterwards

4) delegate to the chief executive, in consultation with the existing members appointed as consultees on Castle issues, the staffing and management of the theatre to enable The Castle theatre to continue to operate while the process for the long-term operation of the theatre is determined

5) Retain the existing revenue budget for The Castle theatre in 2016/17, subject to further reports outlining requirements for supplementary revenue and capital estimates, if appropriate and necessary

The full council meeting starts at 7pm on Tuesday (December 20) at Swanspool House in Wellingborough.