Sidmouth Manor Pavilion bucks national ticket trend

PUBLISHED: 11:19 06 February 2012

Sidmouth Manor Pavilion.
Picture by Alex Walton. shs 9676-29-10AW

Sidmouth Manor Pavilion. Picture by Alex Walton. shs 9676-29-10AW

Archant

DISTRICT council chiefs say a comment they are looking to “offload” Sidmouth’s Manor Pavilion Theatre “could not be further from the truth”.

The authority says the popular venue has bucked a national trend of falling ticket sales - and is going from strength to strength after a reversal in fortunes.

The Herald reported last week how Sidmouth Town Council set aside £25,000 in its budget in case it takes over control of the theatre in the next year.

An East Devon District Council (EDDC) spokesperson said town councillors initiated negotiations over a possible transfer, and the authority was happy to enter into discussions “in the spirit of localism”.

The spokesperson pointed to the recent success of the Manor Pavilion and said EDDC would be happy to continue to run the venue if necessary.

The last six years has seen the Manor Pavilion’s ticket sales increase by 15per cent as national sales dropped by 20 per cent. Friday and Saturday nights at the venue are fully booked this year – with very few dates left for hiring - and more varied productions on offer.

The pavilion will host a professional ballet company for the first time in its history in April.

Councillor John O’Leary, EDDC’s member champion for culture, said: “It’s highly unlikely that the town council would have approached us if it was not impressed by the Manor Pavilion Theatre’s success and financial viability.

“We view it as an excellent asset and would be more than happy to continue to run the venue should our initial discussions with the town council not come to fruition.”

Credit was given to Graham Whitlock, the current manager, who was appointed by EDDC six years ago.

Sidmouth town councillors earmarked £25,000 to set up a trust to take ownership of the Manor Pavilion at a meeting last Monday. Talks heard that EDDC wanted to “offload” and “be shot of” a venue councillors described as a “sacred cow” and “golden asset” to the town.


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