Securing a long term viable future for the Winter Gardens in Margate is a priority for Thanet District Council.
In order to identify a new long term direction, it was announced in August this year that bookings at the Winter Gardens will pause from Sunday 14 August 2022. All tickets and events up until that date will be honoured.
Below is an update from Cllr Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Thanet District Council.
“Margate has always had a strong entertainment offer and the Winter Gardens is a much loved local venue. As part of the Margate Town Deal, we have allocated £300,000 of revenue funding for an in-depth appraisal looking at the best options for the Winter Gardens to ensure a sustainable future.
“The objective of the ‘Future Options Appraisal’ is to review how best to reinvigorate this underused heritage asset to support footfall and income into the town. The project will be further boosted by a series of highway and public realm interventions that are also proposed as part of the Margate Town Deal.
“No decisions about the future of the Winter Gardens have been made but it is safe to say that the impact of COVID-19 not just on the Winter Gardens but on the leisure industry as a whole has been profound. The Winter Gardens, a Grade II listed building, is also in need of refurbishment and the work as part of the Margate Town Deal will help it define its place in a post-recovery marketplace.
“As part of the long term solution for the Winter Gardens, the heritage building will need significant renovations to ensure its sustainable future for the next 100 years. It is likely that in order to facilitate this work and to secure a longer, more viable future, that the building would need to close for a period of time to allow this to be safely completed. Until the options appraisal has been completed however the details around this are not yet known. The public will be kept informed as this work progresses.”
Kevin Fordham, Managing Director of Your Leisure, stated;
“Your Leisure is working in a collaborative partnership with Thanet District Council on the long term future of Margate Winter Gardens. Until August 2022, for Your Leisure at the venue, it will be business as usual, and we are committed to delivering an extensive and diverse programme of shows and events. The current lease runs until October 2024 and we are working with our partners to deliver what is in the best interests of both Your Leisure and the iconic venue.”
“The past decade has seen theatre operators placed under increasing pressure of maintaining large heritage buildings, in some cases over 100 years old. Compounding this has been the impact of the Covid pandemic which has created huge challenges for the arts and live entertainment industry across the UK. Prior to the pandemic, Your Leisure was in the process of successfully moving the theatre operation towards long-term financial sustainability, however, the impact of Covid restrictions removed the momentum and a much needed year of show income.”