Last night Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet voted to invest £2.56 million in the Regal Theatre Stowmarket Improvement Project.
The investment, consisting of £1.56m in capital grant from Mid Suffolk District Council, and £1million in a loan to Stowmarket Town Council, will enable two new cinema screens to be added to the Regal. The building in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, currently has a single auditorium which is used for theatre performances as well as to show films.
These new 87 and 57 seat screens, plus the renovation of the existing auditorium and foyer, are predicted to increase attendance at the Regal Theatre by approximately 40% from around 63,000 people a year to 114,800. The increase in visitor numbers are expected to generate between an extra £500,000 and £1m annually for the local economy.
The project is also expected to create between 10 and 20 new jobs. The Mid Suffolk District Council-owned Ipswich Street Car Park, which is next to the Regal Theatre, will be rearranged to improve its layout.
The Regal Theatre Stowmarket Improvement Project has been identified as an investment project in Mid Suffolk District Council’s Stowmarket Action Plan, which was also supported at the Vision for Prosperity events held in the town last summer.
The Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council and Cabinet Member for Assets and Investment, Cllr Nick Gowrley, said: “The Regal Theatre is a truly loved institution in Stowmarket, offering the community a place to come together and stage their own productions as well as screening the latest films. The extra cinema screens will attract new audiences and enable us to show more newly released films and a wider variety of other movies.
“The Regal has been at the heart of Stowmarket for a long time, not only thanks to its cinema screens but due to it’s hard work with community theatre groups, Dementia Friendly Screenings and hosting touring performances from across the country for residents of our town to enjoy.
“However, this funding is not just about the Regal: it is about investing in the future of Stowmarket by increasing visitor spending in our town by up to £1million a year and creating up to a score of new jobs. Improving the layout of Ipswich Street Car Park will also make it easier for visitors to support the businesses that drive our local economy.”
Stowmarket Town Councillor Barry Salmon said: “We are delighted that the District Council is supporting this project. The Regal Theatre is hugely popular and it is great news for the town that both the District and Town Councils are willing to invest in its continuing success.
“We wish to see a modern entertainment venue at the south-eastern gateway to the town centre which can be used for civic and community purposes, cinema and theatre.”