Theatre gets £25k grant

PUBLISHED: 15:30 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:31 10 June 2010

SIX years after disabled access at the Blackmore Theatre, home to the Exmouth Players, was first mooted, the scheme can finally get under way - thanks to a £25,000 cash boost from Devon County Council. Only last week former mayor and theatre patron Cllr E

SIX years after disabled access at the Blackmore Theatre, home to the Exmouth Players, was first mooted, the scheme can finally get under way - thanks to a £25,000 cash boost from Devon County Council.Only last week former mayor and theatre patron Cllr Eileen Wragg criticised East Devon District Council for failing to commute the final £4,000 of a £70,000 loan into a grant, to free up cash so improvement works could begin.But now fellow county councillor, Conservative Bernard Hughes, has stepped up to the plate, committing money allocated for his ward from the proceeds from the sale of Exeter International Airport.The money will enable work to go ahead to install a disabled lift and develop the foyer, disabled toilets, a ticket office and a 'wheelchair friendly' entrance.Because the theatre is situated on the first floor, the auditorium can only be reached via a steep flight of stairs. This prevents anyone with disabilities either taking part in productions or watching performances. The theatre has formed close links with the local Gateway Club but the involvement of its members is severely limited by the poor access.The total cost of the project to install the lift is £28,000, with the development of the foyer area costing a further £20,000 - the remainder of the funding has been raised by the Exmouth Players.The £25,000 was allocated by Exmouth Halsdon and Woodbury County Councillor Bernard Hughes from his local projects fund.Councillor Hughes said: "The Blackmore Theatre and the Exmouth Players, along with many residents from the town and the surrounding towns and villages, will benefit greatly. "The grant will provide Exmouth with a recognisable little theatre, which may also offer other art groups the possibility of a new home."Exmouth is poorly served with facilities for the arts, and Devon County Council, by providing this grant, will assist the town in a significant way. "It is my hope that, when all the work is finished, we can invite representatives of Devon County Council, East Devon District Council and Exmouth Town Council to see the results of their generous contributions."A representative from the Blackmoor Theatre's Development Committee said: "Speaking on behalf of our membership and audiences, I am extremely grateful to receive these funds. Members have been working for seven years to raise the money to allow this development and it is a tremendous boost to the members and the local community to be able to arrange not only for the installation of the lift, but also for the development of the foyer over the next months.

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