Melton Theatre loses 'levelling up' funding

The interior at Melton TheatreThe interior at Melton Theatre
The interior at Melton Theatre
Millions of pounds of ‘levelling up’ funding earmarked for Melton Theatre is to be invested instead in the development plans at the town’s Stockyard site.

The theatre was due to receive £2million out of the £23million awarded by the government to Melton and Rutland in January 2023 from the Levelling Up Fund (LUF).

But a rethink has been influenced by the Department for Education issuing a ‘notice to improve’ last year to SMB College Group, which manages the theatre, due to financial issues.

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Melton Borough Council’s cabinet approved a proposal to repurpose the LUF money from the theatre to the Stockyard at their meeting on Tuesday. The decision is dependant on government approval.

A drawing of how the entrance to The Stockyard will look like in Melton after the planned developmentsA drawing of how the entrance to The Stockyard will look like in Melton after the planned developments
A drawing of how the entrance to The Stockyard will look like in Melton after the planned developments

Councillors were told that the theatre money would need to be reallocated quickly due to time constraints over spending it or there would be a risk of losing it.

The Stockyard, which is on the livestock market site on Scalford Road, has already received £11million in levelling up money to create food production hubs for small local producers, an enhanced space for open air events and modernised toilet facilities.

A report which went before the cabinet states: “Following the award of a £2m Grant, through the LUF, to the theatre in Melton it was announced that the College had received a ‘notice to improve’ from the FE commissioner due to its existing financial position.

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"Due to this and other factors it has been identified that despite work between Melton Borough Council and SMB group to secure the future of the theatre and wider Melton campus site, the theatre provision will no longer be deliverable within the Levelling Up Fund programme, which potentially puts the £2m investment at risk.”

The Stockyard as it looks today before the planned developmentsThe Stockyard as it looks today before the planned developments
The Stockyard as it looks today before the planned developments

The report adds: “Following careful internal consideration and discussion with Rutland County Council as the accountable body, it has been agreed that the only credible option which meets the above, and retains the funding in Melton, is to repurpose the £2m into providing an enhanced cultural offer within the trader hall units on the stockyard.

"This would involve enclosing the space and providing the relevant infrastructure to support cultural events, shows and activities throughout the year whilst also providing a more welcoming space for existing users and tenants.”

The levelling up money for the theatre was due to be used to refurbish the main auditorium and backstage facilities and make the space more accessible.

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A major renovation of the theatre was carried out in 2022 after it closed for more than two years due to the Covid pandemic.

This was paid for from the proceeds of a sale of land for housing at its Brooksby campus.

The theatre is a key part of the college’s renowned performing arts course, which is now the only study programme remaining at the Melton campus after all other courses were relocated to Brooksby last year.

The Asfordby Road theatre has hosted top stars over the years, such as Ken Dodd, Lee Evans and Alan Carr, plus a host of top rated musicals and singing acts.

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