We believe that the location of the Mecca building is ideally suited for many reasons and any new build will have to be away from the town centre and hence will not benefit the town centre, which we believe is an essential element in keeping our town centre alive for those that live and trade there.

Moreover, it is cheaper to create as a new build would be around £25m, its next to Castle Green and Museum making the location a cultural quarter and next to all transport links. Additionally, large theatre builds only happen where there is an infrastructure to support it so any theatre that seats 2000+ would require a whole rethink of roads, services, hotels, transport and many others. Taunton can’t do that now but it can take on the Mecca building and Taunton needs a 1000+ seat venue and we have one. We just need to reclaim it.

Raising funds will be a challenge but not impossible, but once achieved the place will need to make money and find regular support. This can be achieved through many means and we have a team of people who know this landscape well. Moreover, the impact on Taunton economically is massive. If 1000 people attend an event and each spend locally £40 per person on food, drink, transport, etc. that would equate to £40,000. Not forgetting other events throughout the year. We must reclaim this building.

For large 1000-seater venues our research has shown that they sell, as a minimum, 250,000 tickets per year. So, get those 250,000 to spend £40 in the local economy and that could generate £10m per annum.

Firstly, our working committee that has been designed as the people to run the venue have over 100 years of combined experience within the industry.

Secondly, as for the activities that go on in theatres spaces or MVP’s like Mecca, one needs to understand the marketplace. For example, Mecca is similar to spaces like Bristol Hippodrome, where big names from the comedy, live music and musical theatre circuit can perform. However, big theatre shows, such as Cats, Lion King etc. only perform in venues that have 2500+ seats.

Plus, it’s about economics of scale. For example, research we have done on other new venue proposals throughout the UK show that a 1000 or 1200-seater venue is best for bigger productions. In fact, at 1000 seats, venues present primarily one-night events; at 1200 seats, the programme is made up primarily of weekly runs. Such variants can be analysed through a feasibility study to inform the business plan.

We believe it’s also important to look at competition. At present in Somerset there are only a few venues that have 350 seats, such as The Macmillan Theatre in Bridgwater (built 2015 estimated at £7m to build). The Octagon in Yeovil has a 622 capacity. Cedars Hall is Wells has 350 and The Playhouse in Weston Super-mare has 644 seating capacity. The Brewhouse in Taunton has 350 seating and Tacchi-Morris has 250 seats. The Mecca Bingo hall in Taunton has 1100 capacity. Here we can clearly see that any MVP for Taunton should not compete with other venues but with 1100 seats it will attract different entertainment providers than these smaller venues.

With options to have smaller rooms, cafe, restaurant and smaller local events the community will have access to an array of services and events. We intend to make it community focused and will ensure the community can use it to create their own arts and culture. With cinema options, dance hall, workshops, meeting rooms, conference facilities and rehearsal space it will be a thriving hub for people of all ages and economic standing. Reclaimed by the people for the people.

We can’t deny that it will be a challenge to retro fit a new stage and all the mod cons that today’s performance requires, but with many innovations and design in this field it is not something that can’t be overcome. Yes, large music events are much easier to achieve and happens to be the most common type of performance people attend, but with some great design we can deliver a range of lighting and sound that fits with most performance types.

Why we can’t do technical theatre? Take a look at the bottom of the following page: https://project-gaumont.co.uk/why-an-mpv

Yes, we believe there should be an equally strong focus on non-cultural activities. Mecca as a mid-sized venue in Taunton would need to be a multifunctional hub, with other ways to generate footfall and boost income (e.g. conferencing, exhibitions, trade shows, fairs and markets, indoor ice rink, food and drink festivals, indoor sporting events (e.g. boxing, wrestling etc.), Expo’s, other festivals, venue/meeting room hire, etc.)

These ‘non-cultural’ uses would need to be included in the business plan but our research has also shown that it would be unwise to think that Taunton will attract very large conferences or trade shows as often these are associated with large conurbations and not the size of the venue. In addition we believe that there is enough non-cultural activity to deliver a robust financial plan that makes profit and supports the venue with little or no public funding in the future.