Maltings chief reveals £3.6m works needed

Around £3.6million is needed to ensure the future of the building which houses The Maltings theatre and cinema in Berwick.

Thursday, 20th July 2017, 7:43 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:02 pm
Matthew Rooke,  Chief Executive/Artistic Director at The Maltings, Berwick.
Matthew Rooke, Chief Executive/Artistic Director at The Maltings, Berwick.

The figure was revealed by Maltings chief executive Matthew Rooke when he and Graham Brown, chairman of the Maltings trustees, spoke to Berwick Civic Society.

The theatre has been in existence for nearly 30 years and along with the inevitable wear and tear, there have been a number of technological changes and requirements.

Mr Rooke revealed that heating is only 77 per cent efficient whereas the current standard is 95 per cent, an expense of £10,000.

Then there is painting and a cost of £24,000 for scaffolding to do the back. Other costly items are a new fire alarm system and emergency lighting. Then around 2020, the theatre will have to close to be rewired. Staff costs too are inevitably rising.

Yet besides problems there are possibilities for reappraisal of current usage. It is now not thought very sensible to have two licensed premises. A proposed use for the existing bar is to turn it into a 40-seater luxury cinema that might, for example, accommodate coach parties.

Structural changes, including moving the box office, could open up the view of the Tweed. Alongside the Henry Travers studio, currently dead space, could be transformed into a flexible social area. Much could also be done to improve disabled access. Other suggested future activities were hosting themed events, conferences and arranging with Woodhorn for the showing of archive film.

He stressed that there is no possibility for the wholesale redevelopment of the venue and whatever problems are faced it will have to keep going for to stop would spell disaster.

He said the aim had to be to be the best theatre in the area. There was a need to showcase local talent but the over-riding concern had to be the quality of production.

He was pleased to announce that box office takings were up 10 per cent.