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Save Epstein Theatre petition reaches milestone figure

A petition urging Liverpool City Council to reconsider its decision to withdraw funding support for the Epstein Theatre has attracted more than 10,260 signatures.

Theatre manager Anthony Proctor says the Epstein management and staff have been “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support for the historic Hanover Street venue.

It was announced earlier last month that the Grade II listed theatre was facing closure on June 30 after the council decided not to renew its lease of the space and to stop subsidising its running to the tune of around £100,000 a year.

The council owns the freehold of the building, which is leased to private commercial landlords, and until now has been leasing back the 110-year-old auditorium.

Epstein Entertainment Ltd, which operated the theatre on behalf of the council, appealed for city bosses to think again and to find a compromise which would enable it to continue running the Epstein as a going concern.

Anthony Proctor said: “We’re overwhelmed by the reaction. Everyone at the theatre is so heartened by the wonderful messages we’ve had.

“To read about how important the venue is to the community is really beautiful. We know how special this venue is and how privileged we are to be the current custodians.”

He says since Epstein Entertainments Ltd first learned of the council’s decision to stop financial support, the company had “explored every avenue” to keep the theatre running.

Operators have held discussions with the commercial landlords and have appealed to the city to maintain a level of funding of around £50,000 per year while they seek additional funding support and work to make the venue self-sufficient.

Proctor adds that while “we understand the position of the council, budgets are very tight”, the city invested more than £1million in restoring the venue a decade ago and will still be committed to helping maintain the fabric of the site, even if the theatre shuts.

But a spokesman for Liverpool City Council says continuing financial support of the venue is “unsustainable” in the current climate, and while the council “is a huge supporter of the city’s cultural sector and continues to annually invest millions of pounds supporting dozens of venues and organisations, that support needs to deliver value for money for the taxpayer.”


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