4 Oct 2009
Support your local theatre
Someone called Robert Hill wrote to the Herts Ad last week saying he was "flabbersmacked" that the Maltings Arts Centre gets £150,000 a year from the Council, and demanded its closure (Herts Advertiser, September 24).
£150,000 sounds like a pretty good deal to me, for a staffed, professional venue in the centre of the city, that (as your Venue section reports) has eight new professional theatre productions in its autumn season.
Mr Hill demands the theatre's "losses" be scrutinised in comparison with the other theatres in St Albans. Good idea, let's do that:
Trestle Theatre was built with a £1.5 million grant, and gets £262,000 a year from the Arts Council. The Abbey Theatre produces amateur theatre and is run by volunteers, so its costs are hardly comparable.
The Alban Arena, provided by the council, shows very little 'theatre', concentrating more on variety-style performances and blockbuster children's shows, on a scale not possible at a small professional venue.
Professional theatre is often undervalued by people who don't understand that it brings more in to the local economy than it receives in funding.
This is because it attracts tourists, who will also spend money at other places in the area, it provides jobs, it helps to put St Albans 'on the map' culturally, and it makes the city a better place to live.
More power to the Maltings' elbow, and I urge everyone to book a ticket for something this autumn.