Futurist looks doomed

The Futurist in the dark as its future hangs in the balance.Picture Richard Ponter 134914
The Futurist in the dark as its future hangs in the balance.Picture Richard Ponter 134914

Friday the 13th could prove the unlucky day when the final nail in coffin of The Futurist is nailed home.

Scarborough Council leader, cllr Tom Fox, will decide whether to keep the ailing venue open or to board it up when its current operator’s contract runs out on New Year’s Eve.

His officers have recommended closure as the only viable option open to the leader and so it seems that the thousands of people who fought against the loss of historic venue are going to be left disappointed.

The report that will go before Mr Fox, by Nick Edwards the council’s director of Business Support, says that Sheffield International Venues (SIV). which manages the Scarborough Spa Complex and Whitby Pavilion under agreement on behalf of the council, has declined the opportunity to run the theatre.

The report also notes that the council made a contribution to the running costs of the theatre to operator Barrie Stead of £80,000.

It notes that Mr Stead requested an increase in this contribution to £180,000 were he to keep running it into 2014.

In November a 4,000-name petition was handed to council chiefs urging them to save the historic theatre.

The 2,100-seat venue has played traditional seaside shows for nine decades, hosting some of the biggest names in showbusiness including The Beatles and Morecambe and Wise, while singer Gary Barlow performed there earlier this year.

The theatre was built in 1921 and has been leased to its current operators since 2002.

But supporters say it has been allowed to deteriorate year after year through a lack of investment by the council which has owned it since 1985.

Also in November, councillors agreed to look at alternatives to regenerate the site - seen as a vital part of the town - after a report in July said the theatre had an “unsustainable” future amid claims it struggles against competition including the newly-revitalised Scarborough Spa and Open Air Theatre and the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

They decided to seek expressions of interest over options for the 4.2-acre site, which has been valued at £335,000, and runs from St Nicholas Street, through the King Street car park and down the cliff to the theatre which is on the seafront.

Supporters of redevelopment say its links give it potential for an “iconic” replacement.

Patricia David, who has been protesting the closure, has urged protesters to take written letters of support for the Futurist to the council offices, addressed to Mr Fox, before Thursday evening.

“He told me he would read them,” she said.