THE immediate financial future of the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny has been secured, according to a report.

Monmouthshire County Council took over the Grade II listed building in February having reached an agreement with the Borough Theatre Trust (BTT).

The transfer was made after trustees were unable to form a budget amidst falling council funding and mounting repair costs.

A six-month review of the venue’s viability is due to be extended, but the council say ‘major steps’ have been made regarding the future direction of the theatre.

Cath Fallon, the council’s head of enterprise and community development, says the theatre is expected to break even against a budget of £114,000 – the current council subsidy.

The Arts Council for Wales (ACW) has agreed to pay £14,000 to replace antiquated lighting and sound equipment, upgrading the theatre’s analogue system to a digital one.

Ms Fallon said: “The new equipment will not only put the theatre on par with the industry minimum standards, but it will also reduce the need to procure this equipment for shows, consequently reducing costs and improving income generation opportunities.”

Acting for the Borough (A4B), a group representing the amateur dramatics community based at the theatre, will also provide 20 per cent match funding for the work.

ACW could also provide further support for the Borough Theatre regarding business planning, audience development and paying for new seating.

“Therefore, at this stage, the conclusions that are being drawn are not those which state that the job is done, and the theatre is home and dry,” said Ms Fallon.

“However, having taken advice from finance colleagues, their analysis indicates that the transfer has been positive.

“The immediate financial future of the Theatre has therefore been secured which leads the team to determine that the theatre is out of immediate danger and steps are required to put the theatre on a more sustainable footing in order to determine the medium-term future.”

The six theatre employees that had been taken on by the council as a result of the handover have since been retrained in line with authority policies and procedures.

But new posts such as a full-time theatre manager have been proposed to ensure stability, the costs of which will be offset by a reduction in overtime and freelance support.

Officers say that the changed staffing structure, coupled with tighter procurement, improved council links and publicity, could result in the theatre maintaining healthy budgets.

Other proposals include the creation of a charter between the council and A4B, which had previously acted as the Borough Theatre Management Committee.

The report adds: “The purpose of the charter will be to clarify how the future relationship will operate, identifying and agreeing rights and responsibilities on both sides to best advantage for the Borough Theatre.”

The report will be discussed by the economy and development select committee on July 19.