Congratulations to the Kings Theatre in Southsea on its 110th anniversary.
For any establishment to reach such an age is no mean feat.
The theatre has come to represent the beating heart of much that is good about culture in the city. But for all its status and the weight that it carries with those who love it – and there are many who do – it is very easy to take it for granted.
Let us not forget that the venerable theatre, which managed to successfully weather two world wars, very nearly didn’t make it into this millennium, let alone to its 110th birthday.
We came perilously close to having it turned into a Wetherspoons pub. Fortunately a trusty band of supporters were able to stave off the bid and usher in the modern era which sees the Edwardian venue run by a trust.
Keeping a theatre – or any arts venue – running in the 21st century is no easy task. The arts are way down the government’s list of priorities and funding cuts have been swingeing, with Arts Council England having its budget drastically reduced in recent years.
Venues have been forced to look at their place in the wider society, to fight for their relevance in a world that is increasingly competitive when it comes to demands on our leisure time. No-one is naive enough to believe we will return to a time where live entertainment is the main draw, but there is still very much a place for it.
And that is why The Kings is currently running a survey to find out what people want from it in the future. Let them know what you think and if you haven’t been in a while, check out the listings – and those of the Guildhall, the New Theatre Royal or the Wedgewood Rooms – and go experience something new.