THE councillor responsible for the borough’s culture has reaffirmed his desire for a new theatre in Warrington despite austerity ‘biting harder than ever’.

A business case – which will include the possibility of converting the former drill hall into a performance venue – will come before the executive board once it is finalised.

The site, on Bath Street, is part of the Town Hall footprint.

The theatre proposal forms part of the authority’s plans to boost the borough’s arts scene.

Cllr Dan Price, executive board member for culture and partnerships, discussed the ambitious vision during Tuesday’s supporting the local economy policy committee meeting.

He said: “We went for the City of Culture and we were disappointed that we weren’t shortlisted but we always knew it was about being ambitious and setting an agenda.

“In terms of growing the cultural offer, inevitably throughout the cultural commission we’ve spoken about the need for a theatre in the town.

“I have made the point over and over again that it is a really important commitment we need to make.

“But we are also understanding that austerity is biting harder than ever, so how do we deliver a theatre for Warrington?

“It has to be something which can pay for itself, it can’t be a revenue demand on the Town Hall.

“I am confident that we can do that.

“We are still working on that business case but I’m sure people will agree with me that we’ve come a long way on this.”

Cllr Price (LAB – Great Sankey North and Whittle Hall) also dismissed suggestions that a future theatre would fail to thrive.

He added: “Throughout the City of Culture exercise, I was given this wave of ‘it can’t be done, there is no appetite for it, nobody wants to go to them, they are elitist – 101 reasons for why theatres aren’t viable’.

“One by one, we have overcome every single hurdle.

“The big one we are trying to overcome now is about how we make it financially sustainable.

“I believe we have a solution to that as well.

“As well as the theatre, we have also spoken about artist studio spaces.

“That is very much about making sure artists across the region have got a home – Warrington could be that home for them.”