Letter: Futurist site’s potential to be the ‘sixth’ largest theatre

Potential to be sixth largest theatre in country.
Potential to be sixth largest theatre in country.

Re some of the points in David Chance’s Futurist letter:

On Labour’s decision to market the site 20 years ago, this is irrelevant, as decisions can be reversed. Anyway, Labour, bar one, voted against demolition.

He mentions £2 million- plus since then keeping the venue in operation. This averages at £100,000 per annum for a prime site amenity. A breakdown of the figures, to show expenditure, is needed for this amount to be meaningful. How does this year-round attraction compare with the Open Air Theatre losses?

The Deed of Covenant made June 19, 1986, between Property Pension (Holdings) Ltd and Scarborough Borough Council, signed by GT Tuby (mayor) and John Trebble (chief executive) on purchase of the Futurist, states, as the following extract and shows the council’s legal obligation. It stated: The council hereby covenants with the company as follows:

a) To maintain, repair and renew and keep in good and substantial repair that part of the Futurist theatre as is coloured green on the plan number three annexed hereto so as to support and protect the adjoining property of the company as is above or below the said part coloured green.

b) Not to diminish or lessen the support and protection now given or afforded to any part of the company’s retained part of the Futurist Complex from the Futurist theatre and to maintain the structure of the Futurist theatre so as to ensure the maintenance of support and protection to the said retained parts.

Just like the revival of ballroom dancing, with the popularity of Strictly Ballroom, stage shows are attracting huge audiences.

Last week on a Sunday afternoon, I was at a pantomime at the end of a 10-week run in Stevenage (hardly a tourist resort!). The Gordon Craig Theatre was full to capacity; plus those in eating areas meant it was buzzing with about 1,000 people. This could potentially be the Futurist.

Frank Tugwell, the architect, took nearly a year to build the Futurist from September 1920 to June 1921. Until March 1921 all work was on the foundations and creation of rear terraces using 2,500 tons of concrete.

It’s to be hoped that the council were necessarily informed of the correspondence between Tugwell and the borough architect and engineer Harry W Smith and have studied Tugwell’s plans of the foundations prior to making the decision to demolish and stabilise.

Cllr Chance says, “severe wing space limitation” ... “make it impossible to take large-scale touring productions.” An examination of the wing space of 24 West End theatres putting on musicals shows the Futurist to rank at 13th in the list from size of large to small.

Cllr Chance states that the views of 68,000 ratepayers beyond the boundary of Scarborough town have not been considered. So let’s ask them whether they prefer a mini funfair, housing and council offices or the sixth largest theatre in the country by holding a referendum. This can be included with our annual rates statement.

Diana Tasker

Save the Futurist

Weaponness Valley Close

Scarborough