Council statement regarding development options of the Ardhowen Theatre

21st September 2018

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to the provision of high-quality theatre services and programming within the district and is embarking on a process to explore options in relation to the repair, refurbishment and possible extension of the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen.

The Council wishes to make clear it has no plans to sell the Ardhowen site as has been suggested in some commentary.

The Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen is over thirty years old.  The building is currently in need of repair and upgrade. A section of the roof is leaking, the electrical wiring needs upgraded, accessibility to the venue for people with additional needs is limited, and car parking at the venue remains an issue.

It is therefore timely to begin a process to consider how best to develop and enhance theatre provision within the Fermanagh area to best meet the needs of all those with an interest in the Ardhowen including its patrons, hirers and ratepayers.

Any significant investment by the Council must undergo a rigorous Economic Appraisal to achieve best value for money and ensure accountability of the proposed spend.

The Economic Appraisal process is at a very early stage.

As part of the Economic Appraisal process, a long list of options regarding the future of the Ardhowen must be considered. However not all of these will be included in the shortlist for final consideration.

To begin this process, Council officers held a meeting with the Ardhowen’s key stakeholders and hirers in late August this year to make them aware of the need for maintenance works to the venue and that the Council may need to make alternative arrangements for performances during any such works.

The meeting was also an opportunity for those who hire the venue to provide feedback on key facilities essential to the successful operation of a theatre fit for the 21st century which should be considered as part of any refurbishment programme to the venue.

The meeting is just one part of the consultation process that will be ongoing over the coming months regarding the development of the Ardhowen. Consultation will continue to take place, not just with these stakeholders but with members of the public, through a programme of public information events where there will be an opportunity to provide feedback on the various options proposed.

The Council welcomes the interest in the development of the Ardhowen and would encourage all those with an interest to provide their feedback on possible options for its development as the consultation process is rolled out over the coming months.