Theatre reject arts merger

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A culture councillor has accused Theatre Royal trusteees of ignoring the ‘bigger picture’ after they decided against an arts merger.

The Theatre in Bury St Edmunds announced this week that it will not pursue a money saving management merger with The Apex .

Instead it will look to work with The Apex at ways of collaborating, such as a shared box office and marketing alongside a coordinated artistic programme.

Theatre chief executive Simon Daykin said the collaboration would allow both the Theatre and Apex to ‘Retain their structual independence and distinctive character in the work they make and present.’

“We all want the same thing – a way of growing audiences and participants across a rich tapestry of arts and cultural activities,” he said.

“Our aim is to drive growth, rather than to cut back and risk knocking the heart out of this town’s cultural richness.”

Tony Doherty, director of The Apex said: “We are really looking forward to working progressively with the Theatre Royal to exploit the splendour of the two venues that this town is blessed with.”

But Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s portfolio holder for culture, said it merely delayed the merger.

On the one hand she said she saw no reason why the collaboration should see the two bodies fail to secure grants.

But she added: “We want to protect the performing arts for the future of Bury.

“We all know grants are going to be cut in the future.

“I can understand their (Theatre board) reasons – they are trustees of a charity. It is more difficult for them to look at the wider picture than it is for councillors.

“It will probably take them longer to achieve full merger.”

“I think it will probably come about eventually because how can we justify seperate management.”