Shropshire theatre saved from axe at eleventh hour

A popular theatre in Shropshire which was under threat of closure has been saved from the axe, it was revealed today.

Officials at Enterprise South West Shropshire have stepped forward at the eleventh hour and taken over the running of SpArC in Bishop’s Castle.

The move has also saved the job of Theatre and arts co-ordinator Cait Leach, who had been told she would lose her post as part of plans to close the theatre.

It comes after Teme Leisure, which runs SpArC leisure centre on the same site, decided to pull the plug on the arts side of the business including the theatre because of funding issues.

Miss Leach will now be employed by Enterprise South West Shropshire and guided by a newly set-up SpArC arts committee.

Charity Arts Alive is also on board to advise the new group on the practicalities of future funding.

Ian Kerry, of Arts Alive, said the takeover had been a ‘real success story’.

He said: “We kept Cait’s work going as long as we could but Teme Leisure has genuine income difficulties and we had to find another solution.”

Miss Leach said she was delighted at the news and said the theatre was currently busier than it had ever been, with a screening of the hotly-anticipated new Helen Mirren production live from the National Theatre, three live operas and regular family films in the summer programme.

She said: “After a period of uncertainty, the community of Bishop’s Castle and the surrounding area can be assured that their flourishing theatre is here to stay.”

Mike Ashwell, manager of Enterprise South West Shropshire, will join the newly-formed SpArC arts committee and report directly to the board .

The transfer of ownership takes effect from today and new arrangements have been put in place for booking tickets and places on workshops. The main box office will still be at SpArC but with a new phone number – (01588) 630321.

Customers will now also be able to buy tickets at Enterprise House in Bishop’s Castle in person and on (01588) 638038, as well as online at www.sparctheatre.co.uk