Plans for Worcester arts venue reconsidered as costs spiral

20th July 2023 | Jack Oliver

Councillors in Worcester are to be asked to reconsider proposals to create a new arts venue at the Scala Theatre as costs spiral.

Worcester City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee will be asked next week to scale back the proposals, reducing the seating capacity of the venue from 500 to 300.

This comes amid rising construction costs for the project, exacerbated by high inflation, leaving the council with a £3.5m hole in its funding for the development.

The council will be asked to support a revised plan which will reduce costs while still creating a venue for live music, entertainment, comedy, and more.

David Blake, Worcester City Council managing director, said: “Rising costs are having an impact on every aspect of our lives and unfortunately the council’s ambitions for the Scala are no exception.

“We have had to reconsider our plans and work out how we can still provide Worcester with a popular and attractive new arts venue, one that will become a popular hub for live entertainment and the arts in the very heart of our city.

“There are still many issues to be addressed, including the development of a viable business plan for the venue and agreeing construction timescales with the Government. But I hope that with these new proposals we can make the revamped Scala a reality and that the Policy and Resources Committee will support this recommendation.”

The renovation is supported by a share of the city’s £17.93m Future High Streets Fund, granted by the Government.

If the new proposals receive the Policy and Resources Committee’s approval, the council will engage with local arts communities to gather their input for the revised plans.

During this process, the current planning application for the venue will be put on hold while the Council discusses its revised scheme with the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, as it aims for an extension to the timescale for spending the Future High Streets Fund cash. The current deadline is March 2024.

The revised proposals will be considered by the Policy and Resources Committee when they gather on Tuesday 25 July. 


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