Scarborough’s Futurist Theatre has gained strong support from members of the Cinema Theatre Association who visited the historic building this week.
The visit, by 56 members, was part of a tour of Scarborough’s cinemas and theatres, which featured the Futurist, Spa Complex and Aberdeen Picture House among others.
Barrie Stead, who runs the Futurist, said he was delighted to get some positive feedback, but feels that sadly it won’t make any difference to the future of the theatre, which is currently looking bleak.
He said: “This group are obviously against anything that might happen to the Futurist with regards to its closure.
“They said it was the highlight of the entire trip and enjoyed looking around the building and having pictures taken. They also came to see Save the Last Dance and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“They were very supportive, recognising that as a cinema, the Futurist is the largest in the UK still operating.
“It’s a very important, iconic building and the fact it is also a theatre makes it doubly interesting.”
Mr Stead added: “The visitors said they had a fantastic time and they will be voicing their opinions about the theatre, but I don’t think it will make the slightest bit of difference.”
The venue is expected to close after the council voted to explore other development options, but it is uncertain when this will happen.
Mr Stead continued: “Our lease finishes on December 31 and what happens next is anybody’s guess.
“All the council are looking for is a caretaker, but we didn’t get into it to be caretakers. We wanted to see it preserved as a theatre.”
Support has also been strong on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/savethefuturist, with people saying the theatre is vital to Scarborough’s economy and must be saved.
Adam Flynn, a Scarborough actor and director, states: “With 2,150 seats, it is the fifth largest auditorium in the country, which is its unique selling point and a draw for large-scale touring productions such as The Lion King, Wicked and War Horse as well as ballets and operas, whose producers will only consider theatres of 2,000-plus seats.
“If a ‘smaller theatre’ were built on the site, as Scarborough Council have suggested, it would be in direct competition with the theatres in York, Leeds and Hull and would ultimately lose Scarborough the edge it currently has with such a large capacity auditorium.
“It would also be impossible to attract any of the largest shows as their producers would lose interest in a small auditorium.”
At the most recent public meeting, the council’s deputy chief executive Hilary Jones explained that the Futurist required major refurbishment and renovation work and that the money for a project of that scale is simply not available. She added that the site would be opened up for suggestions from developers and that all options would be considered.