Future of Margate's Theatre Royal 'at risk'

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Kent's oldest theatre is "at real risk of being lost", a national advisory body has said.

The Theatres Trust said the Theatre Royal in Margate, which first opened in 1787, was one of 49 theatres across the UK facing an uncertain future.

It said it feared it could stop operating as a playhouse after the firm which ran it went into administration.

Thanet Leisure Force, which now runs the theatre, only has a one-year contract, the trust said.

The Theatre Royal is a Grade II* listed building sited within a conservation area.

In May, the organisation running it was dissolved because of severe financial problems.

'Important building'

Thanet District Council bought back the lease on the building and appointed Thanet Leisure Force, which already runs the Margate Winter Gardens, to manage it for a year.

However, the Theatres Trust, said until a longterm solution was found, there was uncertainty over the theatre's future.

Mhora Samuel, a trust director, said it would be working with Thanet District Council and Kent County Council over the year "to see if we can make that future a little bit more secure".

"It's future really has to be as a theatre. It's such an important building, but it's also such an important resource for Margate," she said.

Thanet District Council said it had spent money on the building to keep it structurally sound since taking it over in 2007, and Thanet Leisure Force was committed to keeping it open as a proper theatre with a full programme of stage performances.

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