Jul 8 2011 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THE group trying to save Ayr’s Gaiety Theatre have been handed £50,000 – by South Ayrshire Council.
The Ayr Gaiety Partnership has also agreed to finalise a lease agreement for the iconic theatre.
The interest-free loan is aimed at helping the group re-open the cafe/bar this autumn.
And a five year repayment plan has been put in place, with the first year payment-free.
Improvement works are set to get underway at the theatre later this month for a new cafe/bar and box office as the first stage in re-opening the theatre.
Discussions are ongoing to finalise the details of the theatre’s lease, with councillors agreeing the partnership can lease the building at a cost of £1 per year, with the option to purchase the property for £1.
Partnership chiefs hope the signing of the lease will prove crucial in applying for external funding for the theatre.
Councillor Margaret Toner said: “There is a hive of activity underway to re-open the Gaiety and the approval of the loan and the steps to finalise the lease are another milestone on that journey.
“One of the key challenges we face in re-opening the Gaiety is to ensure it can be sustained and the investment provided by the loan will help the cafe/bar achieve just that.
“I am also delighted we are moving closer to finalising the lease of the building to the partnership, which will act as a symbolic and historic handover, showing how far we have come.
“The Gaiety Theatre will re-open and reinvigorate arts and culture in this area and this now takes us closer to that becoming a reality.”
Ian Welsh, chair of the partnership, added: “Getting the works underway, opening the cafe/bar and getting the keys – as it were – have been at the forefront of our initial ambitions, so this is a major step forward.
“And it’s only the start of the continuing journey to see the theatre fully operational and delivering a quality events programme for residents and visitors alike.
“That’s our ultimate aim and we’ll continue to do all we can to make it happen.”