Sidmouth Manor Pavilion ‘handover’ talks

Owners promise future of theatre is safe

OWNERS of Sidmouth’s only theatre and arts centre have vowed its future is not in doubt as they consider letting the town take control of the historic venue.

East Devon District Council revealed (EDDC) yesterday it has held ‘exploratory talks’ over handing responsibility for the Manor Pavilion to Sidmouth Town Council.

EDDC chiefs have labelled the proposed change as a ‘Big Society’ move.

They say the hub has seen ‘dramatic changes’ in the last five years and its current success promises a ‘very bright future’.

Sidmouth town councillors met on Monday to discuss the feasibility of any such handover.

Both authorities have promised the future of the Manor Pavilion is “not in doubt”.

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An EDDC spokesman told the Herald: “The district council has a responsibility to explore how best its services and assets can be administered.

“We are also keen to strengthen the capacity of our towns and parishes.

“To that end, we are working with Sidmouth Town Council, which has set up a working group to see whether it is feasible for the town council to take over the venue.”

The Manor Pavilion is currently owned and managed by EDDC. The building was originally built as a dance hall before being converted into a theatre with raised seating in the early 1970s.

The theatre seats 277 people and is now open all year round.

The venue is the home to the Charles Vance repertory company during the summer, presenting 14 different plays in three months.

Local amateur and professional companies present weekly and one night productions covering all aspects of entertainment at the pavilion.

In 2005, the venue was on the brink of closure - losing nearly �63,000 a year – but a huge turnaround saw a reversal in fortunes.