A switch to digital cinema and a frontage facelift were among the highlights for a busy year at the Sheringham Little Theatre.

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Chairman Richard Ellis told the venue’s annual meeting the new cinema equipment was “stunning”.

After a recent gala screening of the locally-made In Love With Alma Cogan film director Tony Britten had told him that the movie had been shown all over the world, and Sheringham had been the best for picture and sound quality.

New film programming had also seen takings of £9,000 - well ahead of the budgeted £5,000.

The cinema development was one of a series of initiatives as it set to offset a 10pc annual cut in council grant funding.

Others included seeking more business support, relaunching the website - with on-line booking due to come on stream by the end of the month, and a refresh of the friends and members scheme. The Hub coffee bar had also been improved with more food on offer.

The £45,000 worth of repairs and improvements to the building by landlords North Norfolk District Council currently see it surrounded by boarding as windows were replaced.

Mr Ellis said there had been residents’ concerns over loss of pavements, but it was necessary for public safety and a matter of “short-term pain for long-term gain.”

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said moves were also afoot to get a satellite dish to enable streaming of live events on the cinema screen which they hoped to have ready by March.

Rehearsals for 36 youngsters in the upcoming pantomime were under way, while others were gearing up for a performance of Annie next Easter.

A Stars funding appeal over recent years had virtually reached its £30,000 target which had paid for a range of work including covering seats and painting walls, to the website and computer improvements.

Looking ahead, plans were also being drawn up for a larger box office area, and extension over a flat roof area to provide a rehearsal, education and meeting room.

The meeting heard that venue had made a £21,000 surplus last year, which was up on the £9,000 the previous year, despite having a £50,000 cut in grants.

Mr Ellis said £50,000 made by the Hub coffee bar was a vital subsidy to the theatre’s operation and thanked all the volunteers who manned it, adding that without their efforts the venue “simply could not exist.”

President Lord Walpole also praised the venue’s summer repertory drama season which got “better and better.”

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