Princess Theatre looking plush... but nobody knows it!

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: Bosses at the Princess Theatre celebrate the turnaround with Mayor Ken Smout. Buy this photo Bosses at the Princess Theatre celebrate the turnaround with Mayor Ken Smout.

BOSSES at Burnham’s Princess Theatre and Arts Centre say it is going from strength to strength after a £50,000 refurbishment – but are frustrated some people still know nothing about it.

Managers and staff were this week celebrating the completion of a £50,000 upgrade of the cafe area, which has seen new furniture and a new kitchen installed.

However, they are also applying for planning permission to put up illuminated signs outside advertising the building, and signs at either end of Princess Street, directing people to the venue.

Burnham and Highbridge Town Council bought The Princess – which as recently as 2009 was leaking £100,000 a year – from Sedgemoor District Council for a nominal price of £1 in spring last year.

Mayor Cllr Ken Smout said: “When we took it on there were terrific losses every year. We did a lot of feasibility studies and looked at every area of spending, the management costs, cleaning costs, the revenue coming in.

“It’s now in a position to become a real community asset going forward.

“It’s frustrating that there are lots of people who have driven past it and not realised what it is. There are lots of parts of the community who don’t know what goes on inside.”

Cllr Smout praised the efforts of Princess manager Andy Pulleyn, adding: “He has drive, enthusiasm and is doing a lot of research about what works and what doesn’t.”

Of the recent refurbishment work, Cllr Smout said: “The bar and cafe area has been completely revamped, with new kitchen facilities in order to do professional catering.

“We want to encourage people to use The Princess for all sorts of occasions, including conferences and weddings.”

Peter Burridge-Clayton, who chairs The Princess management committee, added: “We are very pleased with the work that’s taken place.

“The reason for doing it was firstly to improve the facilities and secondly to help generate income for the future - eventually it will become self-funding. We had a wedding fair at the weekend and we’ve got more possible bookings coming in – it’s all really positive.”

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