The owner of Burnham-On-Sea’s Ritz Cinema has this week proposed taking over the running of the loss-making Princess Theatre from the Town Council.
Pat Scott, pictured, who runs Burnham’s Ritz Cinema plus two other cinemas in Frome and Minehead, says he would like “to turn The Princess into a thriving community facility.”
Responding to rumours about his interest, Pat told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I would love to take it on and expand Burnham’s variety of entertainment, adding performances of live West End shows, big concerts, and new film releases on a big screen at the theatre alongside the cinema at The Ritz.”
“The theatre’s current community groups and activities would be encouraged to continue and expand, and we’d look to grow the theatre’s use, create more enthusiasm, and encourage more local people to use it and visit.”
Pat adds: “The Princess is a magic building – I would like to see it used to its full capabilities, encouraging more community involvement, and, ultimately, for it to pay its own way.”
“With our three existing cinemas and my previous management of a theatre in Gloucestershire, we have a proven track record – and I also have contracts in place with film and event providers.”
He explains: “For a ‘peppercorn rent’ and a multi-year lease, we’d take on the running of the building and its maintenance. There is a great opportunity here and I am really keen to give it a go.”
Mayor Cllr Lesley Millard said last night (Tuesday, January 3rd) that the idea “sounds interesting” and could be considered further by the Town Council.
In November, it was reported that The Princess Theatre had forecast it would make approximately £50,450 of income during the coming year on expenditure of £240,433, leaving £189,983 to be funded by tax payers or drawn partly from the council’s reserves, prompting a debate about its viability.
However, a revised budget was considered by councillors during a council meeting on December 14th which forecasted higher income of £68,550 during the coming year on expenditure of £239,103, leaving £170,553 to be funded by tax payers or reserves.
A petition supporting the theatre – signed by over 160 local people – was handed to the council during the December 14th meeting, while several residents present told the council that more consultation about the theatre’s finances is needed.