Thursday, August 01, 2002

VENUES IN CRISIS: Liverpool's Neptune Theatre is threatened with closure, despite being owned by the same people pushing Liverpool's bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008 - the city's council. According to the campaign to save the venue - which plays host to everything from gigs to one of the few Easter pantomimes in the country - there's no real reason for the place to close. The only municipal theatre in the city, and a much-admired one at that, hasn't noticeably been performing badly, and even if the Neptune wasn't running at a profit, there are many who'd argue that funding a place where local people can put on a show, or even Ian McNabb can get a gig might not be a better use of public money than pouring thousands into a bid for a year of questionable value. It's possible the Neptune's sin is to be located in the heart of the "creative" quarter of town, and as such worth a lot more if it gets sold off and redeveloped as apartments or a theme bar - certainly, only Wetherspoons could come up with a better use for the space. The killer detail, of course, is the story currently circulating in the city that the local press haven't actually reported the threatened closure of the Neptune because they fear that publicising it would harm Liverpool's chances for 2008. Maybe they'll galvanise themselves into action after the title has been decided.

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