Theatre could need £250,000 to buy site

The Lion Theatre EMN-140707-155121001
The Lion Theatre EMN-140707-155121001

Officials at Horncastle’s under-threat Lion Theatre Company could face the daunting task of rasing £250,000 - if they want to buy their premises.

Owners of the Red Lion public house plan to sell the entire site, throwing the future of the much-loved theatre into doubt.

However, there is a ray of hope as the actual theatre building at the rear of the pub has been awarded protected community status by East Lindsey District Council.

The owners of the site - a South Yorkshire based brewery - have officially confirmed to ELDC that they will be selling the site.

That, in turn, has kick-started a moratorium - a specified period of time which gives the theatre company the chance to try and buy the building.

Company chairman Shirley Moffat told the News that estimates suggested around £250,000 could be required.

Ms Moffat admitted the company did not have that amount of money “just lying round.”

And she admitted that even if they managed to raise the funds, the owners are under no obligation to sell the theatre to them.

Ms Moffat added: “Everything is very much up in the air.

“We’re having regular meetings but it is a case of trying to decide what is the best way forward.

“Raising £250,000 would be a massive challenge, but if we achieved it and then they (the owners) turn round and don’t sell it to us, what would we do then?

“They could receive a better offer before anything is officially signed. What would we do? Give the donations back?

Ms Moffat said a public appeal was an option but admitted the fact the company was a registered charity could have legal implications.

She also admitted that any money raised could be put towards a new home for the theatre - if any proposed sale fell through.

Ms Moffat said the company had been overwhelmed by the amount of support.

She added: “Everyone has been absolutely brilliant, but it is a matter of trying to ensure Horncastle has a theatre for future generations to enjoy.”

In the meantime, it is very much ‘business as usual’.

The theatre’s latest production - the John Godber comedy ‘Crown Prince’ - opens on March 17 - see page 36.