Consultation on future of Wirral theatre
One of the Wirral’s most famous attractions could grow and attract bigger audiences proposals being considered by Wirral Council.
A specialist provider is currently being sought to as part of a proposal to help New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion attract the bigger shows it needs to become more successful.
The 800 seat theatre does not produce its own plays which means it is limited in the performances it can attract, as well as the percentage of ticket sales it may retain and the income it may generate.
A report to the Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee said the authority is continuing to look at plans first revealed last year to bring in a national organisation to take over the theatre.
Cllr Julie McManus, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “This is a process which will include extensive consultation and engagement with the many people who use the Floral Pavilion and those who work there to ensure they are fully involved in making decisions about its future.
“Over the coming weeks and months we will be talking to theatre-goers who visit the Floral, the volunteers who give so much of their time to ensure it’s such a fantastic destination, and of course to the staff and our trade union colleagues about the best way forward.
“We want to see this iconic cultural institution serve the people of Wirral to best effect for decades to come, and as cabinet member I will work closely with my colleagues on the scrutiny committee, and other council members, to make sure they are fully involved in this process and build a consensus on the final decision about the theatre’s future.
“This is not about selling off a Council asset. If there is agreement about taking this proposal forward we would retain the freehold and place restrictions on its future use to guarantee it remains a theatre and conference venue.”
It is more than a decade since the Floral Pavilion was rebuilt and its overhaul played a key role in kickstarting the regeneration of New Brighton.
These proposals could remove the financial pressure of operating the theatre – expected to be around £550,00 a year – while also ensuring it can grow in the audiences it attracts and build on the prestige it already commands.
With a commercial theatre operator the Floral Pavilion could be in a better position to book performers for a number of theatres, obtain a greater share of the income from tickets and attract even more well-known acts.
However, the theatre and site would remain in Council ownership and leased to the provider to allow them to make the necessary investment, while a restrictive covenant would be put in place to ensure it can only be used as a theatre and conference venue. This approach would see theatre staff transfer to the new theatre provider.
A marketing campaign has been launched and potential operators have until July 15 to submit expressions of interest, after which they will be assessed by councillors before any decision is made.
A report on the progress of the proposals is due to be presented to the Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee when it meets on July 2.