Six Wellington Town Councillors who serve on Taunton Deane Borough Council will be instrumental in deciding the future of Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre this week. The council meets today to consider a report on the option of bidding for the remaining lease.
The Council has already made it clear that it has no wish to operate the theatre itself but would be keen to reach an agreement with a potential tenant to take over the day-to-day business as long as they could prove their operation would be financially viable long-term. Any future operation must be proven, to enable a realistic date for re-opening the venue.
Wellington Town Councillors who serve on TDBC were asked to comment on the issue. Due to its sensitive and confidential nature, several have declined to give their views until the outcome is known but Councillor James Hunt said, “Like many of my colleagues on Taunton Deane I think it is important that we do all that we realistically can to get the Brewhouse open and operating again. I believe that the Brewhouse forms the cultural heart of Taunton and brings many people into the town and thereby benefits the local economy.
“However, it has not been without its problems and ultimately I believe that it is not a lack of funding that led to its closure but a failure of the management to adapt to a changing world. In its present form I think the Brewhouse will need to be run with many more voluntary staff and have a smaller number of directly employed individuals and seek to concentrate on its primary function as a theatre.
“At present I am mindful to support the allocating of additional funding to re-acquire the lease for the Brewhouse to reopen but under the present tight financial situation I want to see strong evidence from any interested parties in running the theatre that it can be run in a sustainable and business focused way in the future. However, my decision will ultimately be made only after the debate has concluded.”
The theatre closed earlier this year when its Trustees called in administrators BDO after running into serious financial difficulty. The administrators have since looked to sell the 61year lease and the Borough Council submitted an initial bid that was rejected. Now, following further talks, in-depth valuation and negotiations, a fresh bid could be submitted – if Councillors agree. Details of the bid remain confidential.
An independent consultant has been appointed to advise the Council on options for the future of the venue. The range of potential options and the timetable for their implementation will depend to a large extent on whether (and when) the Council acquires the venue.
If the Council acquires the Brewhouse, it could then grant a new lease on terms agreed with a new tenant. If the Council does not acquire the lease there is a restriction on assigning the lease to a new tenant.