A threatened historic Coventry theatre has reached a milestone under volunteers who stepped in to ensure its survival.
The Albany Theatre Trust, run and management by volunteers, has just marked its second anniversary.
Having often faced an uncertain future, the 1930s art-deco “hidden gem” theatre risked closure in 2009 with the sale of it building, known as the Butts theatre in the old Coventry Technical College.
Coventry City Council made it a condition of the college building’s conversion to apartments that the new owners, developers MCD (Coventry) Limited, allowed a charitable trust to run the theatre.
It ensured the theatre’s premises remained intact.
The re-named Albany Theatre re-opened under Trust status in February 2013.
Since then, over 50,000 people have enjoyed performances, and thousands of young people have performed on the stage.
Last summer, more than 1,100 under-16s took part in a five-week programme of events, and the Trust appointed its first full-time employee – a theatre manager.
But threats to its future re-emerged when MCD went into receivership last year, meaning the 620-seat theatre would lose tens of thousands of pounds in grant support.
But, with free pro-bono advice from Coventry-based Prime Accountants on a business plan, the Trust built up an ‘operating reserve’ to act as a contingency fund to assist the theatre’s long-term survival.
David Meredith, Chairman of the Albany Theatre Trust, said: “Managing finances is a challenge for any organisation, but particularly so for charities that don’t have the money to spend on professional help.
“We are very lucky that amongst our growing volunteer base we have some talented people.
“… This theatre belongs to the people of Coventry and we’re absolutely delighted to have grown from nothing to be celebrating our second anniversary.
“We would like to thank Prime, the city council and all of our valued volunteers for their continued support.”
Prime Accountants chairman Laurence Moore, who became a director of the theatre trust four years ago, said: “It’s a pleasure to work with the Albany Theatre, which lives up to its reputation as a hidden gem in Coventry.
“When I heard that the theatre’s future could be in jeopardy, I felt compelled to see if we could make a contribution.
“We’re proud to play a part in helping to ensure the longevity of this local treasure for years to come.”