'We must save The Brewhouse' - founder member Cllr John Meikle's plea (From This is The West Country)
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'We must save The Brewhouse' - founder member Cllr John Meikle's plea
FOLLOWING the news of the sudden closure of The Brewhouse Theatre, its founder-chairman Cllr John Meikle (pictured) has issued a call to arms.
‘THE king is dead, long live the king’.
The first era of the Brewhouse is dead – long live the second era.
This message is about the second era, and with your help there will be one.
When we built the Brewhouse there were 400 of us. Sadly, many of those people have now passed on.
With the support of the Deane Council I’ve taken upon myself the job of producing another army of 400 volunteers from whom a new ‘Theatre Trust’ will be created and to whom I will hand on the baton.
In due time the Brewhouse will re-open.
It’s sad, but in the end inflation defeated the Brewhouse’s survival.
In the 1970s I could hire the leading Oxford Playhouse Touring company for £2,000 and still make £1,000 profit. Today that would be at least a £10,000 loss.
Our 352 seats are just not enough to bear the weight of even medium-sized professional productions.
May I present a personal concept and hope for the new Brewhouse?
l It will be a ‘community theatre’.
l It will be run by your new Brewhouse Trust, while a small number of professional staff will be needed, but, as 35 years ago, teams of volunteers will be in place to facilitate the shows and usages.
Who will be the future users? It will be a much wider spectrum than before – it will be ‘the community’.
I’d like all our traditional amateur companies to return as soon as possible.
I shall ask that the Deane Council offers special support to give village drama groups a professional stage and invite the whole village to see them.
Because the running costs of the future Brewhouse will be a small proportion of those at present it will enable hire charges to be brought down for amateur groups and obviate the need to look for other venues.
We have to accept that the emergence of the new ‘Brewhouse Community Theatre’ will need a fairly long runway to take off and get everyone aboard.
To this end I suggest a ‘Temporary Commissioning Committee’, mostly from existing amateur societies, to form a ‘brains trust’ and an active group arranging the detail of the launch of the new Theatre Trust, possibly by June 1.
Hopefully, well within a decade there will be a third era of the Brewhouse, and already the design of a new 650-seater auditorium exists.
Forty years ago I was asked why I was working for a theatre for Taunton, and my reply was: “Because I believe a theatre and arts centre is as important to the spiritual and cultural life of a community as a reservoir is to its physical wellbeing”.
Will you say ‘count me in’?
I LOOK to all members of Taunton Association of the Performing Arts organisations to sign in.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at 4 Queens Drive, Taunton TA1 4XW.
Tell me whether you can help as a general supporter or volunteer on the box office, in the general office, in the bar, front of house, selling programmes or anything else.
Please include your contact details.