HAZLITT CLOSURE: Russell Grant backs 'save' campaign as gloom for future grows
Friday 20th November 2020
TV ASTROLOGER and "national treasure" Russell Grant is the latest celebrity to throw his weight behind Daily Downs Mail's SAVE THE HAZLITT campaign.
Hard-up Maidstone Borough Council, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, wants to shut the popular venue to save money and has severed the contract with Parkwood Theatres which runs it.
The saving to MBC is around £240,000 annually although the cost to keep it mothballed is £110,000 a year.
Mr Grant said: "If the Hazlitt isn't there, there will be a huge gap that needs to be filled."
He said that council officials have to "think beyond the virus".
Parkwood Theatres, says its boss Tony Doherty, runs the Hazlitt at a loss but depends on the panto run and the £240K subsidy to keep it going day to day and to put on the many community-based activities.
Losses are kept to a minimum by keeping eye on costs and Parkwood's parent providing economies of scale.
In the second half of the 15 year agreement with MBC, Mr Doherty predicts that the Hazlitt will start of make money principally by running the business prudently and increasing ticket sales.
MBC's papers for next week's policy and resources committee, which can overturn the closure decision, show the Hazlitt contributes £5 million to the local economy.
Pro-theatre insiders at MBC are now "very gloomy" as members on the P&R committee still seem minded "fly in the face of public opinion" and shut the theatre anyway.
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