Morecambe Winter Gardens progress recognised in latest register of theatres under threat
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Now in its 17th year, the annual list features 38 theatres and is published to call the public’s attention to those theatres under threat of closure, redevelopment or demolition in an effort to highlight these important buildings, their challenges, and the significant cultural opportunities they can bring to local communities.
The north west landmark is listed as an example of progress, with the recent Levelling Up Fund success for the town in securing support for the Eden Project North identified as a major positive for the venue.
Amidst a challenging period for theatres, the past year – the Winter Gardens’ 125th anniversary – has brought a number of notable events and developments.
This included a visit by the then Prince of Wales, King Charles III, who commended the work that is ongoing at the venue. In recent months pantomime returned to the seaside venue for the first time in decades, whilst ongoing restoration work and an exciting programme of events points to a bright future for the theatre, which dates back to 1897.
Prof Vanessa Toulmin, who is chair of Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust and also the University of Sheffield’s Director of City & Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement, said: “We are delighted that the Theatres Trust has recognised the progress we have made in extremely difficult national circumstances.
"I would like to thank our funders for helping us on this journey, the support received from our local authorities Lancaster City Council and Morecambe Town Council, as well as from a range of other supporters.
"However, we would not be in this position without the support of our amazing volunteers and the support of our visitors.
“Last year, we welcomed over 55,000 visitors as we worked in partnership with public and private bodies to put on a great range of events and our volunteers provided over 17,500 hours of support to enable the Winter Gardens to be once again at the heart of Morecambe's entertainment, cultural and visitor economies.”
Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan said: “As the true impact of rising construction and energy costs, cost-of-living crisis and squeezed council budgets becomes known, the challenge to secure the futures of Theatres at Risk will be more difficult than ever and there is a real fear that more operational theatres may become ‘at risk’.
"However, despite the difficulties, local support and collaborative working still pays off and the opportunities these buildings offer their communities are immense.”
With the Morecambe Winter Gardens currently closed for the season, the volunteers at the heart of the operation continue work behind the scenes to ready the venue for re-opening at Easter.
Find out more about the Morecambe Winter Gardens and how you can support the ongoing efforts to bring a new lease of life to the building by visiting https://morecambewintergardens.com/