FTH Theatre (Falkirk Town Hall) Closure FAQs

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Arts 29 September 2022

FTH Theatre (Falkirk Town Hall) Closure FAQs

FAQs regarding the closure of FTH Theatre (Falkirk Town Hall)

1. Why is the council closing FTH
a. The Town Hall is approx. 60 years old and in a poor condition. It is fundamentally linked to the Municipal Buildings currently being demolished and will cost £2.3m to disentangle the two properties and will require a closure of the FTH for 12 months to complete the work. Due to the current construction and condition of the building, to bring it up to a basic or satisfactory standard will cost between £2m to £4m and these works will not substantially extend its life or greatly improve its energy efficiency, nor will they address the shortcomings of the stage size or lack of atmosphere or intimacy. This investment would also reduce the overall budget for the new FTH and given the rising construction costs and inflation, this could jeopardise whether a quality cultural venue could be delivered in the high street for generations to come. Retaining the existing FTH at this time would also stall regeneration of the Municipal Buildings site as it is highly unlikely any developer would be interested in purchasing this parcel of land with the FTH still in place. This does not represent good value for money and a full closure is the pragmatic option in difficult circumstances.

2. When will FTH close?
a. FTH will close on Monday 6 February 2023 and the building will be demobilised. It is proposed the building will be fully closed from March 2023 and demolished thereafter.

3. Why has there been no community consultation on the proposed closure?
a. Officers were instructed to appraise retention of FTH and to disentangle it from the former Municipal Buildings that are currently being demolished. As part of the findings of the investigations, the costs are estimated to be £2.3m to disentangle the buildings and the FTH would require to close for 12 months. The costs to bring the venue to a basic condition of between £2m and £4m were estimated. These costs do not represent best value to retain a building with a limited life. Given the employee implications of closure, the proposal needed to remain confidential until presented to Elected Members and staff were advised of the proposals.

4. I have booked tickets for an event in April, will I get a refund?
a. Yes, you will receive a refund for any performances no longer able to go ahead. We will refund the full cost of your ticket(s) to the card you originally booked on. If you paid by cash, a member of staff will be in touch with you by phone to make arrangements for your refund. This will involve many transactions, so please be patient with us. We will process your refund as soon as we can.

5. What will happen to local groups who use FTH?
a. The council will be working with local groups to identify other venue to accommodate their activities. Any affected groups should email arts@falkirk.gov.uk

6. What other venues does the Council have?
We know that closure in 2023 will cause disruption to local groups who use the existing FTH until such time as the new FTH is opened. We will work with groups to explore ways in which productions can be modified to be accommodated into the alternative venues available in the Falkirk area. We do recognise that the capacities and technical facilities will be different to those available at FTH, however alternative options include Grangemouth Town Hall (434 seat capacity), Bo’ness Town Hall (390 seat capacity), Dobbie Hall (476 seat capacity), The Sanctuary at Falkirk Trinity Church (240-440 seat capacity), as well as a number of the Council’s High Schools.

7. What is the Council doing to support Groups relocate?
a. The Council has requested Officers to engage with Voluntary Arts groups directly with regard to the financial assistance required to the sector to support the delivery of their programmes in alternative venues.

8. What will happen to equipment in FTH?
a. Equipment that can be reused in other council venues will be removed and relocated as part of the demobilisation of the building

9. When will the new Town Hall be delivered?
a. Subject to approval of the report, officers will develop the business case for the new Town Hall and progress proposals on the site options available.

10. Where will the new Town Hall be built?
a. The council is aware of a number of sites that could accommodate the new Town Hall and will progress negotiations with the owners of these if the report is approved. At this stage the council has not agreed a preferred site.

11. How much will the new Town Hall cost?
a. The budget for the new town hall is £39m and any project will require to be delivered within this.

12. Why is this the first we have heard about the FTH needing to close?
a. The original plan was to retain the existing FTH until the new venue is built: It is acknowledged that the ideal approach would have been to have a new FTH ready before the existing one closed. Unfortunately, there was always the potential that the ongoing demolition works at the Municipal Buildings site, would identify new issues at the FTH that undermined its ongoing operation. The fact a full closure for one year would be required, as well as in addition to the demolition, disentanglement works, the building has continued to deteriorate in terms of condition and therefore the significant investment works required means keeping the FTH open does not represent value for money and would jeopardise the funding available for the new facility

 

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