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Sutton theatres saved by private company

The Secombe Theatre. Photo: AB Monblat
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The future of two theatres in south 
London have been secured after their local council agreed to outsource their management to a private company.

The Secombe and Charles Cryer Studio theatres are owned by Sutton Council, which currently also manages the buildings. However, the running of the venues will be handed over to Sutton Theatres Trust, a private company limited by guarantee, in April. It is not a charitable trust.

Both theatres came under threat in 2014 when the council announced that, in order to make £40 million of cuts across its services, it planned to sell both venues.

Transferring their operation to the Sutton Theatres Trust will ensure that the venues remain open. The decision comes after a public consultation last autumn in which residents could submit their views on the theatres’ futures.

Jill Whitehead, chair of the council’s environment and neighbourhoods committee, said the move was “a great example of the council and the community working in tandem to shape the future of our borough”.

Sutton Theatres Trust was founded by producer Beri Juraic and actor and director Micha Colombo, who said in a joint statement: “It’s a tough era for the arts, and we’re thrilled that the council made what we believe to be the right decision to keep the theatres alive. We hope that the council will continue to support and collaborate with such crucial pillars of the local community for everyone’s benefit.”

The council previously subsidised the Secombe with £427,500 per year and the Charles Cryer Studio with £252,000. But a report produced last year claimed that only 22% of Sutton’s adult residents visited the council’s eight cultural venues, including the two theatres.

Both theatres were placed on the 
Theatres Trust’s Theatre Buildings 
at Risk Register in 2014.

Rebecca Morland, from the national advisory body, said she was “delighted” the theatres were now safe. “We look forward to taking them off the list when we publish our 2015 register in September.”

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