Need for 500-seater hall in Sidmouth

SIDMOUTH needs a 500-seater hall in which to stage popular FolkWeek performances, say festival stewards.

SIDMOUTH needs a 500-seater hall in which to stage popular FolkWeek performances, say festival stewards.

Standing in the rain, waiting to get into the Manor Pavilion Theatre on Monday night, there were disgruntled folk complaining at the lack of large enough venues in the town.

Apart from the new Ham marquee, which seats 1,000, other halls and marquees have struggled to accommodate those wanting to see such bands as Lark Rise or join workshops led by Genticorum.

"We need a 4-500 seater hall," said one steward at Manor Pavilion on Monday, after trying to fit all those wanting to see Lark Rise into the 277-seater building.

Howard Lee, chief steward for the theatre and Arts Centre, agreed.

"There is always this problem with people who have got season tickets, but we make it quite clear we cannot guarantee a seat.

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"If they buy an event ticket we have to guarantee a seat, and we have tickets we can sell [on the night] if we can manage to get them in."

John Dowell, festival marketing director, said: "It is always going to be a problem at the Manor Pavilion because it is a small venue, similar to the Methodist Church.

"With the weather being so bad everyone wants to be inside. It is just one of those things.

"We haven't got a big enough venue to cope with some popular events. We could have done with something like a 500-seater hall."

He said the Ham had originally been considered as a venue for the Lark Rise Band but decisions who went there were judged on how many seats could be filled.

It would be a waste to only half-fill the large marquee, he added.

"The hall could be well soundproofed. The big problem is car parking."

Theatre manager Graham Whitlock had one suggestion - to build another layer of seating at the Manor Pavilion.

*Do you have a solution to this quandary? Have your say on the Sidmouth Herald forum at

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