The Waterside Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend won its battle to stay afloat. The 120-seat neighbour to the nearby Royal Shakespeare Theatre (home of the Royal Shakespeare Company) was in danger of being turned into a pub by pub operators J.D. Wetherspoon.
A public inquiry, held Friday, decided in favour of the local council who argued that the closure of the theatre would be a loss of local cultural heritage. The Waterside, the town's only venue for amateur productions, closed last year. The council is in the process of applying for lottery and Arts Council funding in order to restore the venue for touring and local amateur dramatic groups.
The campaign to save the theatre, run by Friends of the Waterside Theatre, attracted wide support. Actress Susannah York, who has appeared in many RSC productions, travelled from London to address the inquiry meeting. She said, as reported in The Times newspaper, "Once a theatre has gone, no matter how large or small, it is another brick removed from the foundation of our culture."
Dismissing Wetherspoon's appeal, the inquiry inspector ruled that any future plans for the building must include theatre use.