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Save live theatre in Spalding – more than 1,500 have signed petition

A worried amateur dramatics group has vowed to send a message to council bosses about the need to ‘save live theatre’ in Spalding.

Jodie Schweikhardt, chair of Spalding Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society (SADOS), fears planned cuts to roles at the South Holland Centre pose a threat to the future of the area’s live theatre scene.

The council has stressed that the plans - which allegedly involve cutting 22 roles down to seven - will not see services cut at the venue and that live performances will return after a summer film programme.

South Holland Centre, Spalding (49289919)
South Holland Centre, Spalding (49289919)

However, Mrs Schweikhardt remains sceptical and started a petition to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the community.

Within a few days, more than 1,500 people signed (link here) to support her call.

She told the Free Press: “How on earth are they going to be able to put live performances on with the level of staff they are having? It’s not going to happen.

“All I want is for the council to realise how much we want to get live theatre back.

“It’s just such a worry. We don’t know what they are thinking but what I am wanting to do is get enough respondents so that the council look at it and see how many people want live theatre.”

She fears that a reduced South Holland Centre would mean the end of SADOS. The group is unlikely to be able to put on a show this year and says alternative venues would be unsuitable for its musicals.

St Nicolas Players has already taken the decision to put on its next show at Spalding Services and Social Club instead.

Mrs Schweikhardt added: “I feel very strongly about it. It’s really upsetting to think it might be the end of live theatre in South Holland.”

She added that she has not fallen out with the council - and will be working with the authority on its summer outdoor festival.

In response to the petition, a council spokesman said: “We have said publicly on a number of occasions that we are planning the return of live theatre events later in the year. In fact, we are taking bookings now for live events, including this year’s pantomime Dick Whittington.

“We are also in discussions with a number of producers of live theatre events which hopefully we can announce soon.

“Our priority right now is making sure the South Holland Centre is a safe environment for our visitors for reopening on July 22. The current South Holland Centre programme was developed using feedback from a recent customer survey. Of those who responded, 80% wanted to see cinema, 50% live music, 44% comedy, 43% musical theatre and 23% community productions.

“We look forward to working with SADOS as part of the South Holland Outdoor Festival where they will host a theatrical walking heritage trail in Spalding on August 28.”

You can sign the petition here.

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