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Spa Pavilion Theatre In Suffolk Latest Victim Of Government Art Cuts

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A historic seaside theatre closed at the weekend after attracting more than three million show-goers over 104 years.

After more than a century echoing to the sounds of music, dance, drama and comedy the talismanic Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe, Suffolk, was silent today.

The huge venue's doors were locked, its future shrouded in uncertainty.

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As another panto run of Aladdin came to an end, reality hit home after a theatre had stood on the site since 1909 - five years before the Great War started.

Supporters are now clinging to the hope that one day new operators will take over the seaside resort's landmark and it could open again.

Last January it was announced that the owners, Suffolk Coastal District Council, had decided to axe the £240,000-a-year subsidy paid to the theatre management company to run the attraction.

Despite efforts over the last 12 months, neither the council nor campaigners could find a way to keep it open.

More than three million people from all over the people over the past century have enjoyed shows of all kinds, but whether its curtain will ever rise on another production is not known.

The council has set aside £10,000 to pay for the theatre to be boarded up if there is no quick solution to the bid to find a new operator.

Mayor of Felixstowe, Mike Deacon, said: "I think it's a great shame for the town and I think it is very short-sighted of the people at the district council to lose something as big and important as that to our town.

"To have the Spa sitting boarded up in the midst of the newly-renovated gardens will be awful.

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"I am quite upset by it all."

Sylvia Lowe, director of the Dennis Lowe Theatre Company, said: "It is just so sad - I am devastated.

"We never believed this could happen.

"All through the run people have been coming up to us and telling us how sad they feel, how terrible it is, and asking what will happen and what are we going to do."

She added: "I think the council acted too late and should have looked at the situation several years ago."

Property consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle have been appointed to sell the freehold of the 892-seater seafront venue, much loved by both locals and holidaymakers over the decades.

It could be taken over by another theatre operator or converted into another attraction or a mix of tourism-related uses.

One suggestion has been that it could be demolished - and a new theatre or state-of-the-art attraction rise from the rubble, a better option than remodelling or converting the existing property.

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