Final curtain call for Cumbernauld Theatre?

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 23:27 on 29 January 2014.
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Proposals for replacement to be discussed. Pic: Cumbernauld Theatre.

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CUMBERNAULD could soon be waving 'cheerio' as council members prepare to vote on proposals which could see the final stage call for Cumbernauld Theatre, with councillors ready to discuss proposals for the much loved theatre's final curtain call.

North Lanarkshire Council has confirmed it has proposals to replace Cumbernauld Theatre with a bigger, more modern facility, which would be purpose-built.

The proposals will go up before members of the authority’s Learning and Leisure Services committee, next week, with the main issue surrounding the Theatre’s proposed replacement set to be Cumbernauld Theatre bar, which has entertained local punters for many years.

Opened in 1961, Cumbernauld Theatre was born after a small group of determined residents persuaded the Cumbernauld Development Corporation to lease them a row of old abandoned farm cottages. When it first opened the Theatre was known as ‘Cumbernauld Cottage Theatre’, becoming a hit with local residents almost immediately.

To date, the Theatre hosts a complete array of comedy shows, concerts, musicals, play and other live performances, with the facility boasting two bards, rehearsal and workshop spaces, as well meeting spaces which businesses and community groups can let. 

As part of the council’s proposals, Cumbernauld Theatre would close its doors, after a new, purpose-built had opened elsewhere in the town.

According to council sources, the authority’s proposals would see Cumbernauld Theatre – currently run by Cumbernauld Theatre Trust Ltd – closed and relocated to the soon-to-be ‘Cumbernauld Academy’.

Nationalist councillor, Tom Johnston confirmed our source’s information, at a meeting of Kildrum Community Council earlier this evening, when he addressed local residents; telling them the relocation would involve the Theatre somehow setting up shop at ‘Cumbernauld Academy’.

Cumbernauld Academy is the new name for the soon-to-be merged Abronhill and Cumbernauld high schools. Coming into being this August, North Lanarkshire Council has promised local residents, school pupils and education professionals that the fifty-year-old Cumbernauld high school campus will be torn down and rebuilt in the years ahead.

The proposals to replace Cumbernauld Theatre will go before North Lanarkshire Council’s Learning and Leisure Services committee on Tuesday 4th February 2014, with the agenda for the committee setting out a number of reasons as to why council members should approve the plans to include Cumbernauld Theatre within plans to replace Cumbernauld high school.

According to the agenda, the reasons behind the proposals are that the “original building and extension are in need of significant refurbishment and upgrade”, adding that the, “…ability to develop the building is constrained due to the current building location on a steep slope and current layout”; adding that access to the current Cumbernauld Theatre location is “…difficult for large vehicles including audience coaches”, with the Theatre having asbestos in its “roof space”; with “Customer and community demand for additional services” unable to be delivered “…within the current space”.

The agenda also cites accessibility issues for the Theatre’s current location, adding: “…any modifications to current structure would not easily comply with EU guidelines on disability access”.

Outlining the rationale for the council’s proposals to move the theatre down to a new Cumbernauld Academy rebuild, the agenda says that a “strong arts and culture specialism” could be added to the curriculum of Cumbernauld Academy, with the Theatre being used by the school during the day.

The agenda says: “.a campus approach to include Cumbernauld Theatre presents an exciting opportunity for the curriculum which could provide the new Cumbernauld Academy with a strong arts and culture specialism. It would be proposed that in this instance due to the specialism that the theatre would bring, the school would access the relevant enhanced theatre accommodation for curriculum use during the school day. The theatre already delivers youth dance and drama workshops as well as spaces for professional adult artists, writers and musicians and community groups in addition to traditional productions. The prospect of having a living and breathing professional theatre company linked to Cumbernauld Academy presents a one off opportunity for both the school community and the wider community”

The document also confirms that design company, Archial has “already commissioned for the [design of the] school [Cumbernauld Academy]”.

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