IN RESPONSE to the article that you ran on February 16 on the council’s decision to close the drama group at The Capitol in Horsham, I would like to make the following comments.
The latest letter given to parents of the above group states that initially there were over 100 children attending the sessions.
My daughter has been attending for ten years now and during that time there has been nearer 50 young people.
Currently the weekly figure is nearer 30 young people, although there are probably 40 to 50 young people on the register.
Michael Gattrell in his new letter says the falling numbers are partly to blame for the group being dropped. Yet in the last few years The Capitol has very rarely advertised the group, but nearly every week it advertises the films showing at the Capitol.
So it could, at very little cost, add details about the drama group. Also, in the Capitol near the box office, you will find leaflets about up and coming shows, but yet again nothing about the drama workshops.
Even during the latest pantomime season, the programme had advertising in it, yet again the opportunity was missed to promote their own drama group!
If the young people were consulted with the possible closure at an earlier time, they could have promoted the drama group amongst school friends etc. The council and The Capitol obviously believe that our young people do not deserve the opportunity to have a voice or view.
The drama group only uses several rooms at the moment as they are not being used for other purposes, they could quite easily use the studio with the partition for all the members, so that is a poor excuse.
The holiday courses are very popular, a lot of children that go to boarding school come as well as the Saturday morning young people.
Although Michael gave us a list of alternative groups available around Horsham for our young people to attend, he forgot to mention that most of the groups listed do not cover the same work as Renee Martin, as most of them are for musical theatre.
On the side wall of The Capitol there is a sign saying ‘Are You Loyal to The Capitol’ - apparently you get rewards for seeing films.
This type of reward scheme has never been offered to the Drama students, yet they pay £5.50 per week and, for a lot of them, that is every week that it is open during the year.
This is obviously how you get treated for being loyal to the drama group. Whilst on the film front, my daughter saw ‘A Woman in Black’ a couple of weeks ago, and for a 50-60 seat cinema, only approximately 25 seats were taken, yet that performance still went ahead!
It seems that The Capitol and Horsham District Council have one rule for one and another for the Drama Group.
A few years ago, the then named ‘The Arts Centre’ was changed to ‘The Capitol’, perhaps that was when it was decided it wasn’t a good idea to have a young persons’ drama group in a theatre.
Where do they expect to find talented up and coming actors and actresses if we close these groups? By closing its own drama group what message does this send out? If this is the first round of cuts what will it be next, closing the whole theatre?
We all in the Horsham district pay our council tax, perhaps we should be asking our councillors what happens to our money?
They do not want to support a group that has young people at its theatre - which must cover its weekly outgoings - but are prepared to make two secretaries redundant at a cost of £118,000 to the council? Is this fair?
JACQUELINE SKINNER (Mrs)
Furze View, Slinfold