Somerset

Taunton Brewhouse Theatre's funding fight timeline

Brewhouse Theatre noticeboard
Image caption The theatre went into administration in February after years of funding troubles

The future of the Brewhouse Theatre has been secured after Taunton Deane Borough Council agreed a five-year lease with the Taunton Theatre Association community group.

It took a year to arrive at the deal, but the theatre's issues date back as far as 2007 when concerns were first raised over the future of the venue if funding was reduced.

Here we look back on the past struggles to keep it open.

April 2009

Brewhouse theatre's director, Robert Miles, warns there could be a funding black hole of about £250,000.

The theatre has been receiving about £150,000 a year from Taunton Deane Borough Council since 2006 but there are warnings the theatre could close as a result of funding shortfalls.

March 2011

The Arts Council has its funding cut by £100m as part of the government's October 2010 Spending Review.

The Brewhouse and Frome's Merlin Theatre both lose out having applied for £260,000 and £211,000 respectively.

Director of the Brewhouse, Robert Miles, said: "We were quite shocked to be honest, because we were doing all the things we needed to do to secure this funding."

In February 2011 Somerset County Council agreed to scrap all of its direct arts funding which amounts to £158,800, affecting 10 organisations including the Brewhouse.

February 2013

Image caption Hundreds of people attended a vigil outside the Brewhouse in February in a bid to keep it open

On 21 February, the Brewhouse Theatre announces its closure, blaming cuts to arts funding.

Taunton Deane Borough Council approves an emergency payment of £35,000 to "help protect the property".

Meanwhile groups which are booked to perform at the theatre speak of the struggle in trying to secure another venue for their shows.

Hundreds of people attend a vigil on the day the theatre's closure is announced, in a campaign to keep it open.

March 2013

Conservative councillor Ian Morell suggests cutting half the annual allowance for councillors to help the theatre.

He says this would raise £120,428 for the venue, but the idea is rejected on 5 March at a full council meeting.

Later in the month, a business plan goes on show at the Brewhouse by the Tone Theatre Association.

This group was set up by Independent councillors Eddie Gaines and Steve Ross to develop the building into a community arts hub.

April 2013

On 16 April a statement to creditors appears on the Brewhouse's website confirming the news that people who bought advance tickets would not receive refunds.

A total of £82,000 is owed in advanced tickets, while £129,000 is owed to artists.

Taunton Deane Borough Council says it wants to buy the theatre and hand it over to a charitable trust or organisation. The council already owns the land on which the theatre sits.

During a council meeting on 10 April it emerges council officers did make an initial offer to administrator BDO but it was rejected.

John Williams, council leader, says he is "not overly concerned" about the initial rejection.

"At the moment we are putting in a bid to register an interest, so that the administrator is well aware that as a council we have a serious interest in that building."

There are concerns the assets such as the lighting and seats could be sold off to help clear the debt.

If the venue is taken on, having no fixtures or fittings would inevitably increase costs if it is to return as an arts venue.

The administrator has a duty to acquire the maximum price possible.

July 2013

A potential solution is agreed between the council and the administrators.

The proposal goes before the full council on 23 July and is agreed - so the lease will be bought and the venue will be run by a community organisation on behalf of the authority.

If the theatre does not open within a year, it will cost the council £370,000 in insurance, security, utilities, and business rates.

The council said it would also cost another £700,000 for less urgent but necessary building works.

September 2013

A deadline of 23 September is set by Taunton Deane Borough Council for local groups to come forward with a bid to run the arts venue.

The council continues with its plans to buy the theatre from the administrators.

October 2013

The council confirms it has acquired the remaining lease, saying it was "not the final stage" in bringing the theatre back to life, but it was progress in that direction.

One community group - Taunton Theatre Association - bids to run the theatre and a decision will be made before the end of the year.

December 2013

It is agreed by the borough council that Taunton Theatre Association will run the reopened theatre.

A five-year lease is granted to the not-for-profit association.

February 2014

The theatre keys are handed over to the community group which confirms there is still a lot of work to do but they are "ready to go".

An April date is set for the Taunton Scout and Guide Gang Show to become the first to be staged at the newly-reopened theatre.

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