September the 8th, 2009
The future ofRotherham's Civic Theatre has been under discussion by our executive committee a good deal in recent months. The council's plans for the redevelopment Of the town centre include closing - and, presumably, demolishing¬the present theatre and replacing it with a new, larger, theatre combined with a new library and arts centre on the Forge Island site currently occupied by TESCO.
In our comments on the plans, we argued that no justification had been advanced for abandoning the present theatre and we followed that up with an opinion poll at the 2008 Rotherham Show. Visitors to our stand were invited to say whether they thought the theatre should be closed and replaced or, alternatively, retained and improved. An overwhelming majority took the latter view.
We then set up an open meeting to which we invited representatives of organisations which regularly book the theatre. Here, the majority favoured moving to new premises but all were agreed that a 500-seat theatre, which the council proposes, would be much too big and beyond the financial scope of amateur societies.
Our next step will be to contact RaDA, which represents the local amateur operatic and dramatic societies, with a view to co-operating in a further meeting to which we should invite the council's head of leisure services, Phil Rogers. We take the view that genuine consultation, which must be a two-way process, is essential.