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16 March 2015, 10:19
Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion is due to reopen next year after the building was sold to a theatre company.
It closed in January 2013 after Suffolk Coastal District Council revealed it couldn't afford to keep it open.
After a search spanning more than two years, the Council have now found a suitable buyer and the new arrangement come into force on 15 May 2015.
The deal has been delayed until then to enable to nearby works to the Seafront Gardens to move away from the Theatre and Car Park.
The new owner, NRG Theatres, is to hold an informal event at the Spa to introduce themselves, launch their plans and engage with the community and other interested parties on 5th June 2015, between 11am and 1pm.
NRG has been formed specifically to save The Spa, and whilst it has already secured sufficient financial backing to refurbish the building it also wishes to work closely with local theatre groups and other community ventures to put The Spa on to a sustainable commercial footing.
The aim of the venture is to act as a catalyst in the regeneration of the theatre, partnering with all groups able to create productions which will fill the auditorium.
The plans for the Spa include a cosmetic refurbishment of the front of house, kitchen, bar & restaurant areas to enable a short summer season of touring events and the re-opening of full restaurant and bar facilities, in partnership with a well-known caterer.
This will be followed by a full refurbishment of the auditorium and back of house areas, designed to enable the production of a wide-ranging program of theatre and entertainment later in 2016.
NRG Theatres intends to include both local and national theatre alongside music and comedy.
It has pledged to work closely with the various interested local groups to ensure that, as far as possible, their needs can be accommodated by the business plan. More information on the NRG team and plans will be unveiled at the event on 5 June.
Ray Anderson, Chief Executive of NRG Theatres said: "We have been working with the Council for several months to find a solution which will enable our backers to invest the required funds to allow us to restore the Spa to its heyday.
"Although the theatre equipment is now very out-dated, we are confident that we can deliver the refurbishments, enhancements and contacts needed to attract the calibre of entertainment which will fill the theatre. We really look forward to working energetically with the local community to drive this project to completion."
Suffolk Coastal District Council confirmed that the arrangements had been complex to negotiate, due to the out-dated nature of many of the fixtures and fittings in the Spa and the Council's wish that it remain as a theatre but without any burden on local taxpayers.
Although the precise terms of the arrangement remain confidential, Suffolk Coastal will not be required to invest any of the money needed to restore the theatre to full operation.
Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal's cabinet member with responsibility for Planning, whose portfolio includes the theatre, said: "I am extremely pleased that NRG Theatres Ltd is taking on Spa Pavilion Theatre and look forward to seeing a rejuvenation of the building under its new ownership.
"Over the past two years, there have been a number of critics who have suggested that the Council demolish the theatre. I am delighted that our belief and perseverance has finally produced a result which I hope residents and visitors to Felixstowe, as well as the wider district can support."
If you would like an invitation to the launch event, or wish to find out more about the opportunities for local theatre productions, please contact Ray Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org by 18th May.