Talks over the future of Theatr Gwaun in Fishguard are at an impasse.
Volunteers want to take over the stage and cinema venue to secure its future and have put forward their plans to Pembrokeshire council.
The authority has offered them the building at a peppercorn rent for two years but says it cannot justify contributing to running costs as well.
Volunteers say they can make the venue pay its own way but need help with transitional funding.
The council has said it will close when money runs out this financial year.
The Friends of Theatr Gwaun (FOTG) believe with improved marketing, the use of volunteers and additional money generating facilities such as a bar they could eliminate losses within three years.
They understand it is running at a loss of around £60,000 to £80,000 a year at present.
Spokesman Derek Webb said they appreciated that the council was facing a difficult financial situation due to local government funding cuts.
But he said they were convinced they could reduce the deficit and eventually break even if the council was willing to fund the transition.
"All we asking for is the chance to show it could work," he said.
"If it closes the council will not receive any rent or rates anyway.
"If we took the theatre over and make it work it would mean there's and entertainment centre there for the people of north Pembrokeshire and that would reflect well on the council."
The council's cabinet member for cultural services Rob Lewis said the authority would continue to meet with FOTG to try and find a solution.
He said: "We have been working with the Friends and will continue to do so in order to give them every opportunity to formalise a sustainable plan.
"That is why we have offered the Friends the use of the theatre free of rent and rates for two years so that they can assess whether they would be able to take on a long-term commitment.
"The Friends want the council to provide them with funds to run the theatre but the council cannot justify this, particularly with the increasingly severe pressures on public sector finance.
"The council is going to find it difficult enough to maintain essential services."
FOTG will be holding a public debate on the future of the theatre at the venue at 1900 GMT on 3 December.