Cornwall to Lose Another Venue as Northcott is Set to Re-OpenDate: 26 May 2010
Acorn Arts Centre in Cornwall has announced that it is to close its doors on 31 August, as its trustees decide the fate of the theatre building.
Cornwall Theatre Company, who own the converted Methodist chapel, which has an audience capacity of 250, say that operation the Acorn beyond that date is financially unsustainable. The theatre will go dark for six months while the trustees explore options to keep the venue open in the longer term.
The closure comes hot on the heels of the Exeter Northcott going into administration. This latest blow to the region has raised concerns that it will leave only one year-round professional theatre venue - Truro's Hall for Cornwall - in the county.
However, it has just been announced that the Northcott is to re-open it’s doors – at least in the short term – with the creation of a new company by the University of Exeter set up to run the venue until 31 March 2011. It is hoped that by this time the 3 main stakeholders – Arts Council England, Exeter City Council and the University – will know what money will remain after the cuts in public spending expected to be made by the new government. In the interim, they have pledged to keep funding at currently levels until 31 March, providing they do not suffer budget cuts this year.
The move means that the theatre can go ahead with the Exeter Summer Festival and plan winter programme, including a Christmas show.
The administrator, currently running the Northcott, is to transfer control on 29 May, but will retain a number of assets, including the Emmanuel Hall, which will be sold to contribute to creditors. The university, who already own the theatre building, will purchase the fixtures and fittings from the administrator, and the theatre’s current staff of 15 will become employees of the new company.
This is little consolation for the 6 staff at Acorn Arts Centre, who will lose their jobs when the Penzance venue closes.
Cornwall Council have said that they “would look to work with the trustees to see if the venue could be kept open as an arts centre using a different business model.”
Phil Gibby, ACE, South West director said: “We are saddened to hear of the closure of the Acorn. The venue received a large arts council grant for refurbishment in 1997, and has since received a number of awards through our Grants for the Arts scheme.”
But on a more positive note, regarding the Northcott, Gibby said: ‘The arrangements we have agreed regarding the short term future of the Northcott represent a positive step forward and, although all the stakeholders face financial uncertainties in the future, we are hopeful that we have now achieved a platform from which the Northcott can move forward with confidence.”