Use it be­fore it’s gone:

Poor attendance at big events could spell the end for Paragon The­atre

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

PLEASE BE SEATED: The Paragon The­atre has suf­fered from low pa­tron­age in its first two ma­jor events. If pa­tron­age doesn’t in­crease, own­ers Merissa and Nigel Craft may have to close the his­toric venue’s doors.

GET IN quick or it will be gone for­ever.

That is the mes­sage lo­cals have to un­der­stand about the Paragon The­atre, as another ma­jor event breezed through town with very lit­tle attendance.

About 50 peo­ple showed up for the Fes­ti­val of Small Halls last Thurs­day, far from the mark of 200 or­gan­is­ers were hop­ing for.

The Paragon The­atre re­opened on July 25 to kick the Childers Fes­ti­val off in style, with this the sec­ond ma­jor per­for­mance at the venue since.

But sim­i­lar to the first Trav­el­ling Film Fes­ti­val to stop in Childers on that night, the Fes­ti­val of Small Halls gar­nered very lit­tle support.

Owner Merissa Craft strug­gled to find an­swers.

“I don’t know what else we pos­si­bly could’ve done,” Mrs Craft said.

“We of­fered buses and ev­ery­thing but no­body took ad­van­tage of it.”

Merissa and hus­band Nigel poured hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars into re­fur­bish­ing the venue so it could re­open and were buoyed by waves of lo­cal support.

Some of the shine seems to have waned in the time

Paragon The­atre owner Merissa Craft It’s re­ally wor­ry­ing. Last time it was film and this time it was live mu­sic and both times we’ve strug­gled for num­bers.

since, though that could be at­trib­uted to the low num­ber of events the Paragon has hosted.

Thurs­day night’s per­for­mance was part of the Crush Fes­ti­val so ben­e­fited from an enor­mous amount of ad­ver­tis­ing, with men­tions in lo­cal me­dia and on the of­fi­cial web­site.

The fact the Fes­ti­val of Small Halls was as­so­ci­ated with the Wood­ford Folk Fes­ti­val saw a lot more ad­ver­tis­ing pour into the event, with at least 4000 re­cip­i­ents on that mail­ing list.

“It’s re­ally wor­ry­ing,” she said.

“Last time it was film and this time it was live mu­sic and both times we’ve strug­gled for num­bers.

“You can stay re­ally pos­i­tive at the start but it gets hard.”

Mrs Craft said she had a plan to turn their for­tunes around, with the 7 Leg­ends Trib­ute Show to be held on Novem­ber 15.

The con­cert will fea­ture the works of Elvis Pres­ley, Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly, among oth­ers.

She said she is work­ing to a 12-month plan and if the sit­u­a­tion doesn’t im­prove by July next year she may re­luc­tantly have to pull the plug.

It is some­thing Mrs Craft does not want to do but if the fi­nances don’t stack up she will be left with lit­tle to no other choice.

PHOTO: SI­MON YOUNG

PHOTO: MAX FLEET

SUPPORT WAN­ING: The Paragon The­atre, pic­tured dur­ing its re­de­vel­op­ment, needs more support to keep its doors open.

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