There doesn’t seem to be a week go past when you hear about music festivals and venues disappearing because of economic down turns or lack of funding. OK so this one is not closing but it is changing and I have read that The Maltings Art theatre in St Albans is going to be converted into a Cinema to the tune of a £405,000 refurbishment.
In recent years there seemed to be less and less music being promoted here, with the odd Jazz, Blues or acoustic event, but they were promoting more small-scale theatre work, comedy and some cinema. So it does seem strange to now concentrate solely on films. The argument is that the council have been subsiding live performances to the tune of £9 per seat and cinema would be a lot less and hope that cinema on a seven-day a week operation will bring in more revenue to make it self financing in two to three years, though some occasional live performances maybe possible.
In my opinion the major problem for The Maltings was lack of exposure, even people in St Albans never knew it existed so if they didn’t know it was there will they go to the cinema too. Also there has never been a dedicated web site, only a presence on Myspace, not the best social network site there is. The Maltings is not a big theatre but does caters for that middle ground between pub venues and The Alban Arena just across the road. With seating between 100 – 150+ comfortably they needed to attract the artist that could bring in a larger audience and on a regular basis and expand the genre of music they promoted.
So why not compromise, if the money is there to refurbish then do it, maybe improve the entrance, a better bar facility even double up as a coffee and snack bar during the day. Yes go ahead and have a cinema, I’m sure they will get the audience they need in the day light hours, they could even hold the occasional day time concerts they used to promote in the past, but leave the evening to live music, theatre and comedy and maybe the occasional cinema to fill the gaps, it could work if they put their minds to it.
More news on the BBC website