Why subsidise a ‘dinosaur’ theatre?

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I WISH good luck to Barbara Rogers in trying to keep St Mary-in-the-Castle open (Observer, July 22).

This is a beautiful unique building, and one which we should all be proud.

However I was amazed to read in this front-page article that the town’s council is subsidising the White Rock Theatre to the tune of £500,000 per year. How can it justify this to us, the council taxpayers?

This theatre was built in the 1920s and, to my mind, is something of a dinosaur.

I have been to many theatres over the years and it’s the only one I’ve seen that hasn’t got a proper orchestra pit. The reason, I’ve been told, is that originally it was built as a concert hall.

It is looking shabby and in need of a complete refurbishment. Better still, it wants demolishing and a brand new theatre built on the site.

It wouldn’t be so bad if all this money we taxpayers are forced to pay to keep this theatre going brought in some decent shows, but it won’t happen.

We only get inferior shows and second- or third-rate comedians performing here, and no A-list stars ever come to Hastings, presumably because they consider the White Rock Theatre an inferior venue.

As a lover of musical theatre, to see a decent professional show I have to travel to Eastbourne (and I’m not talking here about all our marvellous amateur music and operatic groups who perform at the White Rock).

Eastbourne, although admittedly a bigger town than Hastings, has five theatres, including one underneath the central public library.

Also, it is cheaper for me to visit a theatre in Eastbourne, rather than Hastings.

Eastbourne theatres always put on regular matinees which, apart from the pantomimes, the White Rock, rarely does.

Therefore I can travel to and from a matinee at Eastbourne using my pensioner’s free bus pass. However, if I did want to see a show at the White Rock, and as buses in the evenings in the area of Hastings in which I live in are non-existent, I would have to take a taxi there and back at a cost of approximately £10 in total, which, added to the ticket price, makes for an expensive night out.

I didn’t realise how much we taxpayers are subsidising this theatre. I, for one, don’t think I’m getting value for money.

DELIA GREEN

West Hill Road

St Leonards