Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have confirmed that a new theatre on a new site will be one of the options explored when deciding on the future of the Ardhowen Theatre.

In their response to several questions put by this newspaper the Council revealed that “a meeting with some key stakeholders and hirers” was held on Wednesday August 22. However, the Impartial Reporter spoke to several different councillors, none of whom were aware of the meeting.

At the meeting the current condition of the theatre was discussed along with some of the perceived limitations that existed at the current site. It was said that the roof needed repair, that there were energy efficiency issues within the theatre, as well as congested traffic problems at events.

One person who was at the meeting was John McCann, Chairman of the Enniskillen Light Operatic Society, and he felt that there was no risk to the future of the theatre:

"To date I would have to say that the engagement from the Council has been positive. I came away from the meeting with no feeling that our theatre was under threat. The impression that I got was that the preferred option for the theatre in the future would be a refurbishment and an upgrade on the existing site rather than moving from the site."

In their statement the Council stated that it was: “currently undertaking a study to explore options in relation to the repair, refurbishment and possible extension of the Ardhowen Theatre.”

After the current “study” the next step in the process according to the Council “is to establish a long-list of costed options for the future of the Ardhowen prior to commissioning an economic appraisal to inform decision making process.”

When asked specifically if a new build on a new site was a possibility the Council confirmed that it “will be included in the long-list of options”.

When asked about the possibility of a new build on the current site the Council stated that: “A new build on the current site was not an option discussed at the meeting; however this could be included in a long-list of options that will be explored.”

All options that make it to the long list will be costed by a quantity surveyor according to the Council.

On the general condition of the theatre at present the Council explained that :

“The Ardhowen is over thirty years old and it is timely to consider modernisation and major refurbishment as a possible option. This could include increasing the accessibility, updating mechanical and electrical services as well as any major maintenance/remedial works.”