New operator announced for Hunstanton’s Princess Theatre

Princess Theatre box office - photo by Stella Gooch

Princess Theatre box office – photo by Stella Gooch

The future for the Princess Theatre is looking bright following last night’s decision by the Borough Council’s Cabinet to lease the venue to C & R Cinemas.

Proposals for the operation and management of the venue were sought as a result of the council’s efforts to safeguard the future of the theatre, whilst reducing the cost to council taxpayers.

Cllr Roy Johnston, Cabinet Member for Performance and property portfolio holder, explained: “The Princess Theatre is highly valued by residents and visitors alike.  It was originally opened as a cinema in 1932 and was taken over by the Borough Council in 1981.  We have continued to invest in the theatre and have run it as a live entertainment venue and cinema.”

“But, with increasing pressures on local authority budgets, we are having to find ways to make our money stretch further and to look for opportunities to make savings whilst protecting services.  Leasing the theatre to a new operator has provided just that opportunity,” he added.

Cllr Nick Daubney, Leader of the Borough Council and resources portfolio holder, added: “The Princess Theatre is a wonderful asset for Hunstanton and I’m confident that this new arrangement will be great for the theatre and for the town.  C & R Cinemas is a family-run business with an excellent track record of delivering the very best in good entertainment.  Today marks the start of the next exciting stage of the Princess Theatre’s story.”

C & R Cinemas was recommend to Cabinet as the ‘preferred bidder’ for the lease of the Princess Theatre, following a competitive process in the summer.  C & R Cinemas is known locally for its management of the Majestic Cinema in King’s Lynn.

Cllr Elizabeth Nockolds, Cabinet Member for Sports, Arts and Open Spaces, said: “Following a series of consultation meetings with local groups, we developed our requirements for the operation of the theatre.  I am really pleased that we have found an operator that will continue with a programme of live entertainment through the summer and make the venue available for use by community groups, continuing a tradition that we established.”

Paul Jervis, Managing Director of C & R Cinemas, commenting on the announcement, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been offered this exciting opportunity. The Princess is a beautiful building that has given great pleasure to the local community and tourists alike. It is our aim to emulate the live programme of entertainment that the council has been so successful with over the years and to introduce a new programme of cinema. We hope to work closely with local community groups to provide a diverse package of entertainment and drama to both amateur and professional organisations.”

Now that the decision has been announced, the Council’s Property Services department will commence detailed lease negotiations with a view to finalising the lease agreement so that C & R Cinemas can take over the operation of the Princess Theatre in the New Year.  The new arrangement will result in an initial saving of more than £160,000.

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