From: Barbara Rogers. Chairman, St Mary in the Castle Friends, Wellington Square, Hastings
The committee of the St Mary in the Castle Friends is concerned about Hastings Council’s proposals (accepted at the last council meeting) to start the process of setting up a new performance venue in the Bohemia area, alongside leisure facilities.
They have applied for, and received, a £10,000 contribution from the Arts Council for a ‘feasibility study’.
We feel that Hastings Council may be doing this without reference to the possibility that a new and high-cost venue could damage the many independent venues in this town, large and small. These operate without subsidies and offer very affordable access to music, dance, theatre and other performances. We are particularly concerned about St Mary in the Castle, and also the new Opus Theatre.
We would like the feasibility study to start with an evaluation of what is already on offer in the town and the local area, to see if there is a gap which a new venue would be serving and if so, how that can be done without undermining those which already exist.
We suggest that the people of Hastings might prefer their Council Tax to be used to maintain the many excellent venues we already have.
We would be happy to be involved, alongside other performing arts venues and organisers, in order to achieve this. We would also like to discuss the ongoing maintenance and running costs of a new venue and whether these might take away council resources in terms of a subsidy.
There are other venues, especially St Mary in the Castle, which need subsidising if they are to maintain and enhance the building and its facilities.
St Mary in the Castle Friends is a separate organisation from the St Mary in the Castle Charitable Trust, and does not represent the views of the trust or management of the venue.