Oxford

Loan helps save historic Kenton theatre in Oxfordshire

Kenton Theatre
Image caption The Kenton theatre is the fourth oldest in the country

An anonymous company has helped secure the future of Oxfordshire's oldest theatre with a £70,000 loan.

The Kenton Theatre in Henley-on-Thames needed to raise enough money to buy the freehold of the building and save it from closure.

Campaigners suffered a set back in July when a £100,000 grant from South Oxfordshire District Council was turned down.

The theatre, which opened in November 1805, is the fourth oldest in the UK.

The Kenton Theatre board of trustees had entered into an Option to Purchase Agreement to buy the venue from its owners, the Henley Municipal Charities, to secure its independence.

They had six months from 26 January to raise £350,000 to secure the freehold which was part of a £1.5m project to improve facilities, while maintaining the character of the Grade-II listed building.

'Cultural asset'

The Kenton for Keeps Campaign will continue fundraising until the £70,000 interest free loan has been repaid.

Alan Pontin, Kenton Theatre chairman, said: "The Kenton is one of the town's most cherished cultural assets which will be available for our future generations to act, sing, support and enjoy for decades to come.

"My board of trustees and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their outstanding support and the Municipal Charities for their professional and supportive resolution."

Wendy Bowsher, managing director of The Kenton, said: "It has been a tall order to raise £350,000 in just six months especially during tough economic times but as a community we did it."

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