"Andover is raising its sights" said Sir George, after attending the Press Conference to launch the new plans for Cricklade Theatre.
"Test Valley Borough Council has raised its sights, with plans for a theatre that has the "wow factor"; and with plans for the rest of the building to broaden the range of culture and entertainment available in the town. I was interested to hear of the plans for more live music, and more comedy; and of the determination of both Hampshire County and Test Valley Borough Councils to make better provision for entertaining the growing numbers of young people in and around Andover."
"Cricklade College is also raising its sights, and using the need to reprovide the facilities in the theatre block elsewhere on the campus to update and improve the facilities which it can offer students."
Speaking at the Press Conference, Sir George said that Cricklade Theatre had been much missed over the past year and he welcomed the plans, and congratulated the College, TVBC and Hampshire County Council. He suggested that, as the Council now owned both the Leisure Centre and the Theatre Complex, the two might usefully complement each other as they were next door. Claire Chidley of Test Valley Borough Council agreed, and said that facilities such as catering and booking might be shared.
At the Press Conference, those present were told that the facilities proposed for the new theatre were part of a cultural strategy for the town, which would raise the quality of life by providing an exciting and ambitious project. After 12 months discussion, agreement in principle had been reached between the College and TVBC, who would be investing £1.5m in the theatre. Hampshire County Council would subsequently help with the running costs, as it was unlikely that the theatre would be able to pay its way and charge affordable ticket prices.
The theatre would be renewed and refurbished, keeping about 250 seats but gaining air-conditioning, and made compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act. The rest of the building would be flexibly designed, and would attract business use as well as culture and entertainment. It would have exhibition space and meeting rooms.
The theatre complex would be professionally managed, programmed and marketed by people with the necessary skills and qualifications.
It was hoped that the new theatre would be open for business within 12 months.
"This is a welcome shot in the arm for the town."