The Charles Vance Repertory Company is leaving Sidmouth’s theatre after 26 years and nearly 350 performances due to “spiralling costs”.

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The company, which has put on the Summer Play Festival since 1987, told supporters it is no longer possible to offer reasonable prices at the Manor Pavilion.

Artist director Imogen Vance emphasised the importance of affordability as one of their founding principles, but said they were forced to increase the modest ticket prices to cover the growing cost of rent at the theatre.

She added: “Knowing that this would continue to be the case, the cost of tickets for the Summer Play Festival would soon be out of reach for many residents.”

Prices reached £13 and £14 for each of the 13 performances last year, so she said there was “no alternative” but to pull out of the East Devon District Council (EDDC)-owned theatre’s line-up.

The company put on shows for three months of the year, but now the summer timetable is set to change.

They offered a wide range of a plays, and the visiting actors would embed themselves in Sidmouth life.

Imogen said: “We are proud to have called Sidmouth our home since 1987 and are proud to have added to the economic and cultural life of the community.”

She thanked all the companies, individuals and audiences who had supported them.

“We wish the Manor Pavilion Theatre and the EDDC the best for the future,” she added.

“We hope that whatever is chosen to succeed us exceeds all expectations and gives the fine people of Sidmouth a wonderful season of entertainment.”

A spokesman for EDDC said: “The council was sorry to be informed that the Charles Vance Company had decided to end their long association with Sidmouth and the Manor Pavilion Theatre.

“EDDC can assure the general public that a professional theatre company will be presenting the 2013 summer season, with full details to be announced shortly.

“We can also confirm that there will be no ticket price increase in the coming year.”

Imogen’s letter is printed in full on page 10 of this week’s paper.

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