Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre celebrates major refurbishment funding

A Lowestoft theatre that was seriously under threat of losing live performances is looking forward to a bright new future thanks to a �250,000 investment.

Yesterday it was announced that the Marina Theatre will use the funds to completely refurbish its main auditorium, make technical improvements and install a 3D cinema system.

The Marina Theatre Trust, who took over the management of the 750-seat Edwardian theatre last December from Waveney District Council, have been planning the �250,000 refurbishment for some months in partnership with the council.

As part of the agreement to manage the Marina Theatre, the council approved funds required towards the restoration of the auditorium.

This will include a full refurbishment of the seating, repainting and new carpeting, which will be complemented by the trust with further technical and ancillary works as well as the installation of a digital 3D cinema.

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Waveney District Council's cabinet member for partnerships, Stephen Ardley, said: 'The council is fully committed to the future of the Marina Theatre and as part of the negotiations to form the trust, we were able to agree terms which included a substantial investment in the fabric of the building.

'The Marina Theatre is without doubt the jewel in the cultural crown of the district and we are delighted that we have been able to work with the trustees to enable these long overdue improvements to take place.'

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Marina Theatre Trust chief executive Martin Halliday said: 'Since formally taking over the running of the Marina Theatre in December, the trust has been working to improve facilities at the venue and planning ahead for the future.

'As part of this it was decided that refurbishment of the auditorium should be our first priority, thus improving the experience for our patrons.

'We are pleased the council have been able to show such great support to the trust and commitment to the theatre's future.'

The last major investment in the theatre was almost 25 years ago when the council saved the venue from demolition and re-opened it as a civic theatre.

In 2009, the Marina's prospects looked bleak when managers had to cut the number of shows on offer.

A five-month search for a new organisation to take over the day-to-day management proved fruitless, and in November 2010 the council considered re-advertising the Marina in a way that could see it lose its status as a full-time theatre and become an 'entertainments or leisure' venue instead.

After a determined campaign to safeguard live entertainment at the venue, the formation of the Marina Theatre Trust was approved and handed over last December.

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