A prominent businessman from Norfolk who created some of the region’s leading tourist attractions is spearheading a major new fundraising campaign in support of Britain’s most easterly theatre – The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.

Joe Larter who created the Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park on the Suffolk coast as well as a number of other hugely successful attractions including the Great Yarmouth & Hunstanton Sealife Centres and the Bure Valley Railway between Wroxham & Aylsham, joined the Board of the Marina Theatre Trust last December and now hopes to encourage support for the Edwardian venues ‘Next Stage Appeal’ which will see major improvements including the creation of a new café bar and gallery link.

To enable it to improve both the venues viability and quality of customer experience, the Marina Theatre Trust recently launched an urgent fundraising campaign to raise £100,000 for a much-needed extension to the Theatre with the addition of The Next Stage building.

The Next Stage will be situated in the adjacent building to the Theatre which was formerly occupied as a call centre. When fitted out, it will include a ground floor café bar, improved box office and a meeting area for theatregoers at all times of the day.

Speaking this week, Mr Larter outlined just how the Trust plans to tackle the fundraising. As major work is already underway it is hoped that half of the required £100,000 can be found by the end of the year, with the remainder sought by June, 2013.

The Trust recently had the opportunity to acquire the lease on the former Zenith Windows Call Centre next door to the Theatre and although the opportunity came earlier than originally envisaged the opportunity was just too good to pass by.

“ This building became available ahead of when we would have wished, but it was so obvious the addition of the space was a ‘one off’ opportunity and would add sustainability to the venue and dramatically improve the service we offer the public, we really had no option but to ‘go for it’.

Although the Trust is able to fund initial works, what we need most of all is donations and help from the general public who, like us love and cherish the Marina Theatre,” Mr Larter said. “Of course, £100,000 is a lot of money to raise but I feel it is most certainly possible”

The current major refurbishment and restoration of the Theatre’s main auditorium is already fully funded with completion set to be in time for September 14 when the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which has enjoyed a hugely successful residency for the past eight years, perform. On or before the same date, the first part of The Next Stage is also set to open.

The second part of the development – a new link joining the Marina Theatre to The Next Stage – will be ready to open in November and Mr Larter said this will make “An enormous difference to the operation of the Theatre and the services we can offer our patrons. Just imagine – at last! More space for patrons at ground floor level linked through to the cafe bar, and space for meetings and exhibitions as well”

The Friends of the Marina Theatre have been asked to administer the venues ‘Sponsor A Seat Programme’ whereby members of the public can donate £100 and have their own name, or maybe that of a loved one, on a brass plaque on a seat. There are 750 seats available and already the opportunity is proving popular.

“ 200 seats sold could effectively raise up to £20,000 and is by far the easiest way for the public to support the fundraising campaign,” Mr Larter said.

The Trust is also looking to find sponsors for furnishings in the new café bar and Mr Larter has also set himself a personal target to deliver five ‘Diamond’ sponsors to each donate £5,000 and he envisages these will be companies or individuals passionate about the success of the Marina.

“That level of support would leave our appeal to the general public needing to raise the balance of around £30,000. Put another way, with about 1 million residents in our catchment area if 20 people gave £500 and 30 people gave £250 and 100 people gave £100, we will be a very near towards achieving our total.”

Mr Larter said there was also a great commercial opportunity for someone to donate £25,000 to have the new link area, which will also double as an occasional art gallery. Potentially this could be named after a sponsor or in memory of a loved one.

Joe continued “Already of huge cultural and economic benefit to the area, we also want the Marina Theatre to become an increasingly important part of the Suffolk business scene.”

“In all those ways, and with appeals we are making to other charitable trusts and individuals, we are confident that we will raise our funds in time. But our strongest support will come from the public who over the last few years have demonstrated their love and support for the Marina Theatre,” he said.

“We are doing our bit as Trustees to take the project forward and have been amazed at the help already offered, but we need you all to buy a seat, sponsor at whatever level you are comfortable with, or just make a donation. Yes – your Theatre needs you!”

If you feel you are able to assist with Joe’s fundraising, or would like further information on the various ways in which you can help, please call 01502 533202 or email [email protected]


 Visit us online at: www.marinatheatre.co.uk


The Marina Theatre Trust took over the management of the Marina Theatre from Waveney District Council last December. The Trust is made up of industry professionals, local business people, Theatre Friends, community leaders & the venues award winning management team.


Joe Larter will be pleased to discuss his role in the theatre appeal, his legacy in building sustainable tourist attractions for the region which includes  Sealife Centres, The Bure Valley Railway and Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park.

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