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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Closure looms for Whitehaven Civic Hall

Show organisers have been forced to ditch plans to stage an event at Whitehaven’s doomed Civic Hall as the curtain is set to come down for the final time.

Civic Hall photo
The Civic Hall, Whitehaven

The popular venue is earmarked to close in just two weeks’ time meaning that many upcoming productions have had to make alternative arrangements.

Copeland council has this week reiterated that the venue will close on November 1, as previously announced, but that it is continuing to explore other management arrangements for the hall.

A statement issued by the council added that “at this stage it is too early to say whether any of these will go ahead, or what the future arrangements will be.”

Copeland Amateur Theatrical Society (CATS) has postponed its production of Return to the Forbidden Planet, which was due to take place in the town centre venue next March and it will now move to Workington’s Carnegie Theatre in May. Whitehaven Theatre Group has also been forced to book Egremont Market Hall for this year’s pantomime, Sleeping Beauty.

There are fears that the move from Whitehaven to Workington for the CATS production could result in falling audience numbers as Copeland residents may not travel to the new venue.

Lynn McTiffin, the society’s publicity manager, said that they had no other option as there was no other suitable venue in the borough to accommodate the production.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” she said. “The last thing we wanted to do was to take it out of Copeland.

“We are devastated that the Civic is closing and it is a travesty that there is nowhere in Whitehaven that can cater for live theatre. It is the end of an era and is very sad.”

However, she added that they were “enthusiastic” about moving to the Carnegie as it had a lot to offer and that they could attract audiences from across the whole of west Cumbria.

Copeland Council revealed earlier this year that because cuts from central government, it must withdraw funding to the civic’s managers, North Country Leisure (NCL), and the venue will close permanently unless any group comes forward to run it without council subsidy.

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