Thameside Theatre under threat of closure?

The Thameside Theatre in Orsett Road, Grays [Google Maps]

The Thameside Theatre in Orsett Road, Grays [Google Maps]

First published in News Thurrock Gazette: Matt Abbott by , Chief Reporter

THURROCK’S Thameside Theatre is at risk of closure...but it could lead to the borough getting a “bigger and better” civic theatre.

Serious questions have been posed over whether the current 325 all-seater auditorium in Orsett Road, Grays is financially viable.

The council claims the theatre, housed within the Thameside Complex, built in the 1970s, needs £442,000 spent on it just to bring into a “reasonable state”.

John Kent, the Labour leader of the council, has also questioned its £345,000 per year running costs and is asking whether the current offering can be replaced by something “bigger and better”.

He said: “There are a lot of services and voluntary groups based at the complex, but the key is the future of the theatre.

“We have to ask: Do we want a civic theatre in Thurrock?

“To me the answer is obvious – yes we do.

“The arts industry is becoming increasingly important to Thurrock and it would be counter to everything we’ve done so far if there wasn’t a thriving theatre in the borough.

“We all love the Thameside; we all have memories invested in the theatre, but what if we create something bigger and better?

“That’s my dream for the arts in Thurrock and I’m calling on all those involved in the local arts scene to join with me, the council as a whole, and those investing in the arts here to make this dream a reality.”

Officers at the council have come up with various options for the cabinet to consider at a meeting next Wednesday [August 13].

They include remodelling the site for wider use, building a theatre elsewhere in Thurrock - with partners - or ploughing in almost £500,000 to freshen it up.

Local societies such as the Thurrock Courts Players and the Thurrock Gang Show are regular users of the theatre, while touring groups, such as popular tribute artists, often attract sell out audiences and every year, residents flock to the Christmas panto.

The complex is also home to Thurrock Museum and Grays library.

Figures obtained by the Gazette reveal that between April 2012 and April 2013, the theatre was closed for more than a third of the year.

Rob Gledhill, leader of the Conservative group in Thurrock, said: “This is a small, outdated theatre and a significant amount of money has been spent on it yet is still doesn't break even. Indeed in 2012-13 the theatre was closed for 136 days of the year and a large number of performances made a loss, which shows that suitable businesses should be running theatres, not councils.

“We do have other sites in Thurrock which may help accommodate most productions and help out other organisations that the council spends taxpayers money supporting.

“Grays needs to rebuild its night time economy and this site could be pivotal in doing so.”

Comments (12)

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8:45pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Thurrock bus man says...

What about the old State cinema? Could something be done with that? The Thameside theatre is well past it's best and is not at all reflective of the modern arts & theatre moving into the borough. A new theatre with better shows/ performances (like what the Circus Tavern has sometimes) and more for younger people would be ideal.
What about the old State cinema? Could something be done with that? The Thameside theatre is well past it's best and is not at all reflective of the modern arts & theatre moving into the borough. A new theatre with better shows/ performances (like what the Circus Tavern has sometimes) and more for younger people would be ideal. Thurrock bus man
  • Score: 24

9:21pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Make Thurrock Better says...

Totally agree. Instead of spending money on that 1970's monstrosity spend it on the State and bid for extra from the arts/lottery. Whatever.
Totally agree. Instead of spending money on that 1970's monstrosity spend it on the State and bid for extra from the arts/lottery. Whatever. Make Thurrock Better
  • Score: 24

10:40pm Tue 5 Aug 14

ThurrockResident says...

I fear refurbishing the State would cost many millions, although it sounds a good idea initially.
I fear refurbishing the State would cost many millions, although it sounds a good idea initially. ThurrockResident
  • Score: 8

8:21am Wed 6 Aug 14

lady1968 says...

Refurbishing the State is a good idea, but will cost far too much money. It's a shame, but it's reality.
Refurbishing the State is a good idea, but will cost far too much money. It's a shame, but it's reality. lady1968
  • Score: 6

9:10am Wed 6 Aug 14

PoorFleet says...

The State would make a fantastic venue but as its been pointed out, it would take some investment.

This is why the Council would need to partner up with an organisation like the o2 Academy to share the costs and lure in more events to justify the spend.
Being right in the Town Centre, a refurbished and revitalised State would be the first step in rejuvenating Grays' night time economy.
The State would make a fantastic venue but as its been pointed out, it would take some investment. This is why the Council would need to partner up with an organisation like the o2 Academy to share the costs and lure in more events to justify the spend. Being right in the Town Centre, a refurbished and revitalised State would be the first step in rejuvenating Grays' night time economy. PoorFleet
  • Score: 19

9:35am Wed 6 Aug 14

Thurrockbob says...

It seems that us common folk know that reviving the state to it's former glory would be a great idea and beneficial to the refurbishment of Grays, the council will still not take the bull by the horns and get investors to put money into the state and get it back to how it used to be, and make it the main feature of a revitalised Grays.
Not rocket science dear councillors, let's see if you have braincells in them empty heads of yours.
It seems that us common folk know that reviving the state to it's former glory would be a great idea and beneficial to the refurbishment of Grays, the council will still not take the bull by the horns and get investors to put money into the state and get it back to how it used to be, and make it the main feature of a revitalised Grays. Not rocket science dear councillors, let's see if you have braincells in them empty heads of yours. Thurrockbob
  • Score: 14

11:01am Wed 6 Aug 14

Make Thurrock Better says...

When it suits the powers that be they do spent millions on projects. Why can't Thurrock have millions spent on something that adds to the quality of life here? This borough is not just here as a rat run for industry and shipping ports. People actually live here. Can we have something for us now please and yes we are worth the millions.
When it suits the powers that be they do spent millions on projects. Why can't Thurrock have millions spent on something that adds to the quality of life here? This borough is not just here as a rat run for industry and shipping ports. People actually live here. Can we have something for us now please and yes we are worth the millions. Make Thurrock Better
  • Score: 12

7:10pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Ed Woods says...

PoorFleet wrote:
The State would make a fantastic venue but as its been pointed out, it would take some investment.

This is why the Council would need to partner up with an organisation like the o2 Academy to share the costs and lure in more events to justify the spend.
Being right in the Town Centre, a refurbished and revitalised State would be the first step in rejuvenating Grays' night time economy.
Thurrock Council have already contacted them and the State is too small and doesn't fit into their business plans for the future.
[quote][p][bold]PoorFleet[/bold] wrote: The State would make a fantastic venue but as its been pointed out, it would take some investment. This is why the Council would need to partner up with an organisation like the o2 Academy to share the costs and lure in more events to justify the spend. Being right in the Town Centre, a refurbished and revitalised State would be the first step in rejuvenating Grays' night time economy.[/p][/quote]Thurrock Council have already contacted them and the State is too small and doesn't fit into their business plans for the future. Ed Woods
  • Score: 0

10:44am Thu 7 Aug 14

Make Thurrock Better says...

I like many others have been to events at the main O2 arena. After having seen a band I liked in a small venue and then in the O2 I decided I didn't want to see artists at the large arena any more. All you are doing is watching them on TV. Many people would rather be in smaller venue. This is the future of live performing as the stadium/arena experience is totally lacking.
I like many others have been to events at the main O2 arena. After having seen a band I liked in a small venue and then in the O2 I decided I didn't want to see artists at the large arena any more. All you are doing is watching them on TV. Many people would rather be in smaller venue. This is the future of live performing as the stadium/arena experience is totally lacking. Make Thurrock Better
  • Score: 2

6:35am Fri 8 Aug 14

elaine lee says...

Everyone is worrying about the theatre. What about the library museum and other facilities such as the register office? Although the State may be too small for the O2, there must be someway of funding the State to hold all these facilities. If not, the government need to get rid of it's listing and the council knock down the biggest pigeon loft in the world! I love the State but we must talk sensibly about both these situations.
Everyone is worrying about the theatre. What about the library museum and other facilities such as the register office? Although the State may be too small for the O2, there must be someway of funding the State to hold all these facilities. If not, the government need to get rid of it's listing and the council knock down the biggest pigeon loft in the world! I love the State but we must talk sensibly about both these situations. elaine lee
  • Score: 6

11:34am Fri 8 Aug 14

Make Thurrock Better says...

Whetherspoons were denied permission to convert the old Grays Magistrates Court to a pub. It was said then that the building would be made into office space but that contributes nothing to the quality of life for the town. Why not move the library and museum to the Magistrates court. It's a far more appropriate building to house those facilities. You could have library, museum, internet cafe, tea room in there and develop the State as an entertainment venue retaining and restoring as much of the art deco as possible. Now wouldn't that be an improvement?
Whetherspoons were denied permission to convert the old Grays Magistrates Court to a pub. It was said then that the building would be made into office space but that contributes nothing to the quality of life for the town. Why not move the library and museum to the Magistrates court. It's a far more appropriate building to house those facilities. You could have library, museum, internet cafe, tea room in there and develop the State as an entertainment venue retaining and restoring as much of the art deco as possible. Now wouldn't that be an improvement? Make Thurrock Better
  • Score: 8

3:41pm Fri 8 Aug 14

OckendonPaul says...

The leader of the conservatives, true to form, demonstrates how they know the price of everything but the value of nothing!
Some great ideas above relating to the state and the old courthouse.
The leader of the conservatives, true to form, demonstrates how they know the price of everything but the value of nothing! Some great ideas above relating to the state and the old courthouse. OckendonPaul
  • Score: 3

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