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Theatre's future secure after town rallies together to raise £150,000

PUBLISHED: 07:41 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:39 07 January 2020

The future of the Fisher Theatre is secure after it was able to raise £150,000 to buy the listed building from the Architectural Heritage Fund. Photo: The Fisher Theatre.

The future of the Fisher Theatre is secure after it was able to raise £150,000 to buy the listed building from the Architectural Heritage Fund. Photo: The Fisher Theatre.

Archant

The future of Bungay's iconic Fisher Theatre is secure after the community joined together to raise £150,000 to buy the building.

Sue Collins and Jan Hughes presenting a cheque from Bungay Town Council to members of the Fisher Theatre: Sandra Cox, Paul Baker and Margaret Laird. Photo: Sue Collins.Sue Collins and Jan Hughes presenting a cheque from Bungay Town Council to members of the Fisher Theatre: Sandra Cox, Paul Baker and Margaret Laird. Photo: Sue Collins.

In the space of just eight months, the theatre's trust was able to fund raise the sum of money meeting an offer made by the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF), who were promising to who were promising to give ownership of the theatre if they could collect the money and prove that "the community was behind" the theatre.

Sandra Cox, trustee of the Bungay Arts and Theatre Society, also known as the Fisher Theatre, said they now own "full ownership of their building" and have "future proofed it for Bungay forever".

Seventeen years ago the AHF stepped in to save the Grade II listed building after another buyer was considering buying the building.

The building closed as a theatre for 162 years in 1844 before the Fisher Theatre re-opened it.

Sue Collins and Jan Hughes presenting a cheque from Bungay Town Council to members of the Fisher Theatre: Sandra Cox, Paul Baker and Margaret Laird. Photo: Sue Collins.Sue Collins and Jan Hughes presenting a cheque from Bungay Town Council to members of the Fisher Theatre: Sandra Cox, Paul Baker and Margaret Laird. Photo: Sue Collins.

While letting the Fisher use the building, AHF said in April that if they could secure the money by the beginning of 2020 the building would belong to the theatre permanently.

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Ruth Selwyn-Crome, a trustee, said: "We had eight months to do it. It seemed impossible but the response has been phenomenal, we really can't believe how everyone has been behind us.

"We had donations of as little as £2 (from children giving pocket money). Hundreds of small donations really do add up quickly to one big sum. People don't realise what a difference their £5 can make.

"There were some incredible individual anonymous contributions, right up to £5,000, as well as ones from well-known people, including Richard Curtis, the film producer/director."

The Fisher Theatre were also lucky to receive some much larger donations.

In November 2019, the theatre was awarded £80,000 from the charity Power to Change, which covered more than half of the needed amount and brought the group to £118,000.

The group was able to astonishingly secure the final £32,000 in just two months.

Contributions were also made by MP Peter Aldous, Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Council, Bungay Town Council, Bungay Town Trust and the Harris Family Fund.

Jayne Knights, Arts Development Manager at Suffolk County Council, said, "The arts sector plays a significant role in the economy, education and wellbeing. We recognise that the Fisher Theatre plays a major role in the wellbeing of the community in Bungay and the surrounding areas."

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