LETTER: Don’t let Mechanics fees drive performers out of Burnley

It was great to again go to the Mechanics to see the latest pantomime,“Aladdin”, put on by the Burnley Pantomime Society.

Another great family traditional pantomime and an evening enjoyed by audience and all the participants equally. Congratulations to Neil Tranmer and all those involved - I know it takes a lot of work and planning to put on. It was a good idea to have the cast line the way out of the theatre, giving the chance to have a word with the performers.

The evening was crowned by a much-deserved award for Hazel Hodder for 60 years work in the amateur theatre in Burnley; an award very much deserved with over 30 years in the pantomime society.

The evening did, however, underline a sadness I have that some local groups are going out of existence or moving out of Burnley. I know financial times are hard but I do believe these groups are important to our town and the council must ensure it does what it can to maintain this diversity and also ensure the ongoing success of the Mechanics which is an asset for the town as a whole.

It is a situation that has been a worry for years. In 2006 I went to the Mechanics to see the pantomime “Cinderella”- another really enjoyable evening. I was concerned to hear, at the interval, of the massive increase in the cost of hiring the Mechanics by organisations such as the Pantomime Society.

The conversation prompted me to write to the Express at the time, saying: “I know the council has a very difficult time fixing the budget each year - I don’t envy them that task.

“That said, we don’t want to force these organisations like the Gilbert & Sullivan Society and others to move their shows to Colne or elsewhere. We have a lot of talent in Burnley and want to keep it here in Burnley and flourishing. The Mechanics is a real asset to our town. So I urge the council to look at this very carefully.”