Midlands to lose €100,000 theatre venue? A call for support
The Passionfruit Theatre Company, a non-profit organisation in Athlone, was founded five years ago, and has been in its' venue at 9 Northgate Street, Athlone, for over a year.
Two years ago, the premises was an empty shell, and 100,000 euros in public funding, individual contributions and community donations went into making the venue what it is today.
Sadly, in January 2009, Joe Ducke, the founder and driving force behind Passionfruit, passed away suddenly. In the following months, the landlords terminated the lease. In the Westmeath Independent, Brian Burford of the Athlone Lodge of the Freemasons is quoted as stating that
'the lease was finished because one of the two people on the lease had died and the other was no longer involved. Mr Burford stated that "refurbishment work" would now be carried out at the premises, and that the lease "will be up for renewal to anyone who wants it, in due course" '
(Westmeath Independent, Wednesday 20 May 2009)
In the past year, the Passionfruit Theatre company has hosted 5 drama productions and over 60 musical acts, both local and international, and has been a valuable platform for many local musicians and aspiring actors.
The plans for the 2009/2010 season include the staging of the late Joe Ducke's last play, a series of free public lectures and workshops, and another series of concerts.
A public meeting was called to discuss the future of Passionfruit Theatre at 9 Northgate Street, in which the following information came to light publicly:
- The Passionfruit Theatre Company is a non-profit organisation. The company is not in financial difficulty and any rumours to the contrary are unfounded. The rent for the premises is paid via direct debit every month, and this has been carried out without fail over the duration of the tenancy at 9 Northgate Street.
- The Passionfruit Theatre Company has never received any official complaint from the landlords regarding noise levels during music concerts, problems with drama productions or other nuisances. The company has never received any complaints from the neighbours of the venue at 9 Northgate Street.
- The company received no official advance notice of the termination of the lease.
- Over 100,000 euros in public and private funding and community donations has gone into the renovation of the venue at 9 Northgate Street.
The Passionfruit Theatre company has been a community undertaking from the very start; we are now appealing to the community for support. If you feel that you can contribute in any way to keep this wonderful venue open, please, let yourself be heard. You can help us by circulating this information as widely as possible. We are sure the closure of this wonderful venue would be of absolutely no benefit to the community.
For any further information, visit our website www.passionfruittheatre.com or contact us at