A REPORT discussed by senior councillors last night claims reopening the Gateway Theatre would be ‘uneconomic’.
The Chronicle ran a campaign to reopen the Gateway on a temporary basis and Tip Top Productions, which occupies the Gateway’s studio theatre, said it could fully reopen the theatre for £100,000.
But a study comissioned by Chester Performs, originally tasked with examining temporary solutions to the lack of permanent venues, pointed out: “A full-time scheme rather than a temporary solution is the priority”.
It recommends building a new theatre with a minimum of 450 seats, as revealed in last week’s Chronicle.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has already revealed its favoured site for the £30m scheme would be on the Little Roodee by the river.
Culture portfolio holder Cllr Richard Short accepts Chester Performs, which was set up to fill the cultural void after the Gateway closed, was unlikely to recommend the Gateway should reopen
“It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas,” he said. But he is sympathetic to the report’s conclusions. With money tight, he would rather available funds went into funding a feasibility study for the new theatre rather than the Gateway.
“It’s more important the money goes into the new facility rather than the old,” he said.
Cllr Short believes the new theatre could be ready in four years’ time but says this is better than waiting up to 10 years for a performing arts centre to be delivered as part of the delayed Northgate Development scheme.
In the meantime, existing venues, like the town hall and the cathedral, could be used as temporary venues.
He insists the permanent venue will be a traditional theatre, including a fly tower to drop in scenery, with space for performing arts.