Venues to explore a management merger

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THE THEATRE Royal and The Apex in Bury St Edmunds could be run by a single management team in a move which will strengthen their finances.

Both organisations are having to cut costs. The Theatre Royal has already reduced the number of shows it has during its summer months after the Arts Council cut its funding, while St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns The Apex, is looking to cut its £775,600 a year sudbsidy.

Now theatre trustrees and the council are discussing setting up a single arts trust to run both venues.

A report prepared for a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Wednesday says the theatre and The Apex are worth about £10 million a year to the economy. The management move could save up to £150,000 a year for the two organisations.

Brian Stewart, chairman of the theatre’s board of trustees, said: “We want to raise the positioning and profile of the Theatre Royal, both artistically and commercially, and changing our business model and working more closely with The Apex makes sense on so many fronts, at a time when funding for the arts is limited.

“Bury is extremely fortunate to have a fine historic theatre, and an excellent new music and entertainment venue, and this new partnership will mean an even better arts offer for residents and visitors, and Bury punching above its weight locally, regionally and nationally.”

He added that both brands would be protected but efficiency savings could see better box office and catering services and improvements to sales and marketing support.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for culture and sport, said the move would ‘bring a focus’ to the town’s cultural offer.

“This trust would position Bury at the forefront of cultural provision in this region and we are delighted that the board of the Theatre Royal share our aspirations for arts in this area,” said Cllr Mildmay-White.