£70,000 bill to stay at Theatre Church
9:16am Monday 10th September 2012 in News
AMATEUR dramatics groups have been told they can return to the Theatre Church for £70,000 a year — a hike of tens of thousands of pounds on what they used to pay.
Directors of Crystal Theatre, Function & Wedding Halls, who bought the building in Seymour Road, Astley Bridge , for £500,000, say one of the options available to CATS Youth Theatre is to rent the building and keep any net profit from any weddings or functions held there.
But CATS co-director Paul Cohen says it is not financially viable as the group had previously paid £68 a week to rent the building — which would total £3,264 if the venue was hired for 48 weeks of the year.
Mr Cohen, also chairman of Bolton Amateur Theatre Society, said: “That’s what we are used to paying. And show nights were £275.
“It’s just going to be unmanageable. Financially, we can’t afford it.
“We understood there would be some increase, 10 per cent or something.
“The income at the moment is £32,000, that’s what I base our business plan on.
“There’s no way we could make £70,000 in a year, even if we had a show in every night of the year.
“It’s not going away. We are not going to take this lying down.”
Dr Mohammed Kulasi, spokesman for the new owners, said the annual cost would cover their overheads and loan repayments as other groups could not use the theatre while a group such as CATS was there.
He added: “A suggestion was made that, if the CATS group wants, it can have the whole of the building, including the theatre, function hall, main hall, car park, except halls of residents.”
Over the next 12 months Crystal Theatre, Function & Wedding Halls plans to concentrate time and investment refurbishing the building so it could be used as a venue for the elderly community.
Dr Kulasi said: “All the income they generate from all the theatre groups, all the other existing tenants and all the income from the weddings, parties, conferences, functions, would be theirs if they can cover our overheads and loan repayments of approximately £70,000.”
CATS raised £300,000 in a bid to buy the building from the Bolton Methodist Circuit, who put it on the market in January, but the bid was rejected.
Mr Cohen said: “They are just making it impossible for us to use it.
“We are having a look at some alternative venues.”
The situation means a number of societies have no venues to hold their upcoming productions.
Dr Kulasi, who lives in Seymour Road and is a doctor of chemistry who works in Preston, said another offer was for the group to raise £30,000 for 15 weeks.
The four directors of Crystal Theatre, Function & Wedding Halls — Amjad Kulasi, Aysha Bapu, Amna Pervez and Aadil Razzaq — will look after the day-to-day running of the venue, which will not have a licence for alcohol.
They have previously said the centre will not be used for religious purposes.
The Theatre Church was converted from a church in 1969 to offer a purpose-built theatre space and has been used by five amateur dramatic societies, two youth theatre groups, eight dance groups and numerous other community organisations.
Due to dwindling congregations, Astley Bridge, Chorley Old Road and Halliwell Methodist churches will merge and move to a new building at the site of the former Delph Hill Methodist Church in Chorley Old Road.