Deadline set for merger of The Apex and Theatre Royal management in Bury St Edmunds

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A final decision over the proposed management merger of The Apex and the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds will be made early next year.

Councillors on St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee are expected to back the move next week which is designed to bring initial savings of £145,00 a year.

Both venues survive on annual subsidies.

The theatre board is still deciding whether it wants to be a part of the move.

Earlier this month it decided to undertake public consultation.

It is due to tell the council of its decision in the New Year.

If it decides to opt in, a final decision over the move will be made by full council on February 26. It is proposed that it be run by the Theatre Royal Management Company.

The Apex which has been opened for two years receives a £775,000 council subsidy a year.

“The council has never made the case that the Apex will operate as an arts venue without a large subsidy,” says a report to the committee which meets on Wednesday

“It has argued that the subsidy by the taxpayer is an investment in the local community and economy.

“The council has acknowledged however that the level of subsidy should reduce.”

The report says it is estimated that the Theatre and The Apex each bring in £5 million to the local economy.

The theatre has been facing financial challenges due to pressures on the Arts Council, Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which collectively give it more than £325,000 in grants a year. The three authorities all back the merger.

A specialist arts consultancy, Bonnar Keenlyside advised the management merger could save £145,00 rising to £188,500 in year two.