Curtain rises on new ‘centre of excellence’

David Eaves, leader of Fylde Council and Tim Lince, acting chair of Lowther Pavilion, sign the service level agreement.

David Eaves, leader of Fylde Council and Tim Lince, acting chair of Lowther Pavilion, sign the service level agreement.

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A BRIGHT future is being promised after a community theatre welcomed in a new dawn.

After months of setback the Lowther Trust has finally taken control of the Lytham Pavilion and Gardens – and they are promising to turn the theatre into a centre of excellence.

The trust, which owns the theatre, will be handed £250,000 of tax-payers’ money over the next five years to help develop and manage the park, after reaching a crucial deal with Fylde Council to take over running duties.

The service level agreement between the council and trust – which will see £70,000 given in the first year – was signed this week and council leader David Eaves told The Gazette: “A number of the trustees have a theatre background and the skills and experience needed to expand the use of the theatre.

“We want to encourage larger audiences, which will include people of all age groups, including younger patrons. We are confident the trustees can deliver on that.

“They want to involve the community more and that has to be the way ahead – while preserving the traditional type of performance which has served the public so well.

“The theatre is a prime asset in a prime location and we are keen to see it used to its full capacity for all the community.”

Coun Sue Fazackerley, cabinet member for leisure and culture, is the council’s representative on the trust.

The takeover was delayed after concerns about the working relationship between the trustees and the theatre’s amateur groups – annoyed by rising rates – and a special council group was set up to ensure all elements of the deal were satisfactory.

The funds handed over by the council will reduce annually over the five-year period to a total of £250,000.

Tim Lince, chairman of the trust, said: “We are excited by the opportunities offered in taking the Lowther Pavilion and Gardens into the future as a centre of excellence in the arts and a community resource for all Fylde residents and visitors.

“We look forward to welcoming both old friends and new to the fantastic facility and grounds that make up the Lowther Pavilion and Gardens.”

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