NEWCASTLE’S under-threat City Hall has been saved from closure after the city council announced it would not axe 100% of its arts budget.
Uncertainty hung over the 75-year-old hall after the council announced its plans to shut the venue as part of its bid to make £100m of savings.
But civic leaders have now revealed that they are in talks with the Theatre Royal Trust about the possibility of that venue’s bosses managing the City Hall.
A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have been in discussions with the Theatre Royal Trust with a view to the theatre taking over management of the City Hall.
“Conversations are still at an early stage and a lot more work has yet to be done, but we remain optimistic about a positive outcome.”
Plans to remove the City Hall from the council’s books were met with strong opposition. Around 11,000 people, both online and on paper, signed a petition against the move, started by the North East Music History group.
As part of the campaign, Lindisfarne singer Ray Jackson announced he was to play at the venue in a bid to save it.
Last night the decision to save the City Hall was welcomed by promoter Barry McKay.
“It is important that the Theatre Royal Trust continues to programme live music into the City Hall,” he said, “and that the superb City Hall management and staff are retained as they are professional and very much appreciated by all live music promoters.
“To think that this unique venue, which is the spiritual home of the late Alan Hull and the original Lindisfarne, could be lost to future generations was simply not something I could sit back and do nothing about.
“My own feelings were shared by many thousands of people who equally supported petitions and other actions.”
Yesterday, The Journal announced that the under-threat arts and culture sector would still be supported by the council through a £600,000 a year fund.
City leaders will hand over the cash to an independent fund panel, with businesses and North East celebrities also urged to contribute.
Newcastle City Council made the annual funding commitment after months of uncertainty following a proposed 100% cut in its support for the arts.
While the new fund still represents a drastic cut on the £1.15m handed out this year to venues including Theatre Royal, council bosses say it will mean a guaranteed minimum funding stream for years to come.