Operatic society invited for talks after 'exclusion' fears at centre

March community centre

Cambridgeshire County Council has invited MADAOS for talks after fears the society will no longer be able to use March Community Centre after a £400,000 refurbishment. - Credit: John Elworthy

The show can still go on at March community centre, says Cambridgeshire County Council.  

The council says it has invited March and District Amateur Operatic Society (MADAOS) for talks as it “very much” wants them to stay.  

It follows fears expressed by MADAOS that following a £400,000 upgrade, the centre will no longer be able to accommodate their shows.  

A spokesperson said the money – from the Combined Authority - was used “to modernise the tired and dated interior. 

“It has also increased capacity through the creation of four extra learning rooms, as well as improving facilities for disabled visitors.” 

The council says the centre will re-open in September. 

It says that “we identified that an external building had significant damage and was deemed to be unsafe for any groups to use.  

Most Read

“This building was used for storage by MADAOS and the dog club.  

“We explained the situation to both in the 1-1s with all community groups which hired the centre prior to the refurbishments in February 2020.” 

The spokesperson added: “We would invite MADAOS to come and talk to us. 

“We very much want them to continue and believe we now have much better facilities for performances, dressing rooms and a much more attractive and disability compliant building for audiences to visit.  

“The only thing we are unable to offer, sadly, is storage facilities and this is only because the building previously used is now unfit for public use." 

Barbara Pepper of MADAOS says removal of storage means they must pay out “a considerably higher sum” elsewhere for storage.  

She also said the centre no longer has a backstage area which has been converted to toilets.  

The centre had been unable to guarantee dressing rooms and it means they can no longer perform there. 

“We have rehearsed there for over 40 years and it is disappointing that groups such as ours were not consulted before changes were made which, in effect, have excluded us,” she said. 

March dog training club says “the venue has sadly informed us” that we can no longer use it”.  

They have been told that under new arrangements, only guide dogs can use the centre.