The chairman of Burgess Hill Theatre Club has reiterated his ‘serious concerns’ for community facilities in response to news that a £65 million improvement plan for Burgess Hill town centre could soon be agreed.
Chris Smith said the club is concerned that no equivalent replacement of the Martlets Hall itself is envisaged in the plans.
He said: “As a long term user of the current facilities of the Martlets, particularly of course for our annual and well supported community pantomime, I have to reiterate that there is nowhere else locally that could be considered a suitable alternative for such a large production.
“For almost the whole of January we take over most of the facilities of the hall including, for example, the various linked rooms as dressing rooms which enables us to involve both juniors and other local guest performers, such as Drusilla Duffil’s Dance Group, making this a true Community project involving a cast often in excess of a hundred local amateur performers.
“Equally importantly the vast back stage area allows us to create a dynamic performance area with sets designed by professionals and built to a professional standard.
“We utilise the expansive areas to the side, rear and most importantly beneath the stage to store our large essential flats.
“Over the past 30 years or so it has been my privilege personally to act and/or sing, on numerous occasions, at all of the other local venues which you appear to suggest might be utilised for large scale performances. These locations include Oakmeeds Community College, where incidentally I was Head of Upper School for some 21 years,
“Burgess Hill School for Girls, and The King’s Centre in addition to other smaller venues.
“None of these venues could accommodate a production such as the Pantomime.
“As a local and most respected club now in its 61st year and which relies heavily on the income generated by our annual pantomime for its survival,the loss of such a suitable venue could be catastrophic.
“In addition other large scale productions,often staring well known national and international acts and which feature so prominently in the cultural and entertainment ethos of our growing town, would be lost. A town the size of
“Burgess Hill deserves a large performance area and this should be written in to any proposed redevelopment of the Martlets.
“On behalf of Burgess Hill Theatre Club I urge the Conservative Association to reconsider its position in regard to the loss of such an important feature of our Community.”
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