THEATRE-GOERS have given unanimous backing to The Chronicle’s Save The Gateway campaign.
Chronicle readers who took part in an online survey have called for the building to be re-opened.
Those who took part in the survey believe the Gateway would:
Attract families back into Chester
Instigate development of the arts
Act as an economic catalyst
When asked “Do you support our campaign to bring back Chester’s Gateway Theatre?” 98% responded “Yes”.
More than 98% of participants agreed that re-opening The Gateway would be beneficial to the city.
And 74% believe that the biggest improvement to Chester that the Gateway could offer would be to provide an interim cultural alternative.
More than 90% of respondents claimed to have used The Gateway when it was fully operational and 98% pledged to use the theatre if were to be re-opened.
More than 90% respondents believe The Gateway should be funded by both public sector and corporate sponsorship.
More than 80% called for a rolling programme of multi purpose events including professional and amateur productions, film evenings, dance and performance and art exhibitions.
Online readers offered many observations and comments about The Gateway campaign with most calling for an easily accessible home for the arts and performance in Chester.
H Swann, of West Kirby said: “I can’t imagine Chester without a theatre ... this theatre.”
Gordon and Jan Mugurian, of Tattenhall, said: “We attended the Gateway on so many occasions from the time it opened and would be keen to do so again.”
John Collins, of Greenlooms House, believes arts and entertainment investment is vital to Chester’s shops, restaurants and hotels.
He said: “With so many hotel bed spaces being created currently, then the city should be aiming to become a conference city. This would become a further stimulus for a reopened Gateway Theatre in combination to bolster the local economy for shopkeepers, clubs, pubs and restaurants.
“Chester needs a sizeable venue for visiting choirs or orchestras (note boycotting of the cathedral this year by BBC Symphony Orchestra) The City of Chester Male voice choir desperately needs a suitable venue in the city for its superb gala performances.
He added: “Perhaps some of the surplus balances held currently by all the authorities who will join together to form the new West Cheshire and Chester authority on April 1 could be channelled towards re-opening the Gateway theatre to mark the historic event.”
A number of respondents expressed regret that The Gateway was allowed to close in 2006.
One remarks: “I think it’s disgraceful Chester City Council has made the promise to close down the theatre and rebuild it within four years without any firm financial backing or coherent development plan.”
Cestrian Oliver Durant who works in London said: “I work for a sound and lighting company that supplies the West End shows.
He added: “I was born and raised in Chester so I have a big interest in the Gateway. Theatre is how I earn a living so I hate to see a theatre going to waste.”
Television and stage actor Tom Lloyd Roberts, of Whipcord Lane, Chester said: “I think it is now very clear that there is tremendous support for the campaign to reopen the Gateway Theatre.
He added: “The Chester Chronicle should be rightly proud of their efforts to give the community of Chester a strong voice in this campaign and they have my wholehearted support.”
Ann Marie Macmahon claims young performers have lost a much loved base to learn vital skills.
She explained: “The Gateway Youth Theatre enabled young people of all backgrounds to work together to produce first-class drama at rock bottom cost. It was life enhancing and two of my three children owe a huge amount to it. As I type my oldest has just come off stage as Mercutio in a university production of Romeo and Juliet.
“None of this would have been possible without his six years of Gateway experience. All Chester children deserve this chance.
A feasibility study into re-opening the Gateway Theatre is to take place this month.
Chester Performs will examine the viability of re-opening the theatre and also assess other options for creating a temporary performing arts venue.
The feasibility study will be carried out by a firm of independent theatre experts and is to be commissioned by Chester Performs on behalf of the city council.