When Barrie and Brenda Stead walk away from the
Futurist stage for the final time, they can hold their heads high. It it were not for this indomitable couple, the beloved Futurist would have been a boarded up shell a long time ago. There is no-one who had the determination or the contacts to maintain the high-points that Barrie has. The borough council has not seen the Futurist as part of its strategy for more than a decade. Its death knell was declared by a former council leader, and every consultant’s report since has added to the nails in the coffin. The Spa Grand Hall and the Open Air Theatre are where we will head for any big names in the future – the first handicapped by pillars and formality, and the second dependent on the weather and the noise police.
Each generation has lost its gems (The People’sPalace and Aquarium, Gala Land, Watersplash, Kinderland, Floral Hall, Royal Theatre, Pavilion Hotel, Hispaniola and Treasure Island), and now it’s our turn. Big acts now want better access and more logistical support than the Futurist can provide, and without the council’s subsidy, that unique capacity auditorium awaits the bulldozer and the town will be split into those who loved it and those who didn’t. Ed Asquith > Editor