Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre had two years notice about funding cut but didn’t make it work says Redbridge Council

The last pantomine made more than £100k in profit. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

The last pantomine made more than £100k in profit. Photo: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council said it will bring forward leisure and cultural plans for the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) site after the current managers found it difficult to run it as a “viable business”.

Redbridge Theatre Company have cancelled shows at the venue in Oakfield Road from July and said rising running costs coupled with a loss of council subsidy means it will have to vacate the local authority owned building.

Jeremy Smith, board of governors chairman, said: “The running of the building – cleaning, repairs and bills – are the difference between being able to stay afloat and not.

“The council told us we would lose funding, and we have tried really hard to save money and make changes but it takes time and the funding was cut in one go rather than incrementally.

“Civic theatre cannot run without a degree of subsidy.”

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Council Leader, councillor Jas Athwal said the local authority gave the theatre two years to prepare for the loss of the subsidy and it has continued to meet the substantial cost of maintaining the building.

“Successive Conservative and Labour administrations in Redbridge have tried to support the KMT to stand on its own two feet and three years ago we agreed to do the same,” he said.

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“Despite our best efforts and a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money in grants to cover the costs of performances and maintenance they have found it difficult to become a viable business.

“This is regrettable and we want to thank the KMT for all it has contributed over many years to the local community.

“Our vision for the coming years is to bring forward a leisure and cultural hub on this site and in the meantime, we will work to ensure the community are able to access the theatre as a performance venue.”

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