A £36,000 boost has been given to the campaigners fighting to keep the Alexandra Theatre as a live entertainment venue.
The newly founded Community Benefit Society also aims to ‘save the Alexandra’ as cultural hub for the Newton Abbot area’ .
It has received a massive boost with the award of a £36,000 development grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund.
The award is from the national body which supports the revitalisation of historic buildings across the UK.
It has been secured by the society at the same time the public can register their support for the Alexandra Theatre plans.
A planning application has been submitted for the so-called ‘Jeremy Newcombe’ plans with Teignbridge District Council.
Supporters and interested parties can now submit their comments on the planning section of TDC’s website by searching for applications 22/01597/FUL and 22/01598/LBC.
The £36,000 grant has been awarded to cover costs in the next stages in the development of the project, including community engagement consultation, business planning and more detailed architectural design.
The Community Benefit Society says it has been set up to return the Alex to a fully functioning theatre.
It has five founding directors and will ultimately be run by the community for the community.
One of the founding Directors and operator of the hugely popular Newton Abbot based Newts Children’s Theatre Group Claire Holden said: ‘We are delighted to receive the grant from the AHF as it demonstrates that a national body is willing to put their money behind us to back the campaign to save our theatre.’
One of the other founding directors is South Devon Alliance Teignbridge Councillor Richard Daws, who has had a career running successful mid-scale venues and spent yesterday as a guest speaker at The Theatre’s Trust annual conference.
The other directors are Newton Abbot businessman John Pike, JJ’s Art’s Academy’s Joanna Walling and NADMACs chair Dr Richard Ward.
The organisation securing the funding is ‘The Alexandra Theatre Newton Abbot Community Benefit Society’.
This is a type of co-operative and it has been formed as a charity.
Cllr Daws explains: ‘If planning permission can be secured and agreement reached with building owner TDC, the CBS will aim to raise money from other national funders and locally by community share offers enabling supporters to contribute as much as they choose and thereby become members of the society.
‘The society will be democratically controlled by its members on a one-member-one-vote basis. If the Society’s plans are fulfilled the Alexandra will be a ‘Community Theatre’ run by and for the benefit of the community.
‘The planning application has been submitted by the Community Benefit Society and is for the designs for a restored Theatre by Jeremy Newcombe, the architect for Newton’s Place (a project that also received backing from The Architectural Heritage Trust), and can be seen on www.alexandratheatre.org.
‘This has a flexible stage, an auditorium with raked seating for up to 284 people and a glass-sided atrium extension.
‘The atrium provides a new no-step entrance and, together with the space under the auditorium, provides a concourse with bar, café and exhibition area.
The planning application includes ideas for an eatery on a new ‘mezzanine’ level of the Market Hall, with market stalls on the ground floor.
‘Supporters of the theatre plans should submit their comments on the council website as soon as possible.’