Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has said it has “no plans to sell the Ardhowen site as has been suggested in some commentary.”

It has however revealed that the theatre may need to close if maintenance work is to take place.

In a statement released the Council stated:

“Council officers held a meeting with the Ardhowen’s key stakeholders and hirers in late August this year to make them aware of the need for maintenance works to the venue and that the Council may need to make alternative arrangements for performances during any such works.”

There were no details as to where those performances may be held.

The meeting referenced in the Council’s statement was held on August 22. At it, Council officers revealed that in relation to the Ardhowen’s future a long list of options would be drawn up and that one option to be included was a new build on a new site.

As a result, there has been something of a backlash with several letters sent to this paper, with one outlining the “grave concern at the fog of uncertainty hanging over the future of the Ardhowen Theatre.”

That letter was signed by 23 signatories.

In a statement released last week the Council has said that a number “public information events where there will be an opportunity to provide feedback on the various options proposed” will be held.

Outlining the current issues facing the theatre the Council explained:

“The Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen is over thirty years old. The building is currently in need of repair and upgrade. A section of the roof is leaking, the electrical wiring needs upgraded, accessibility to the venue for people with additional needs is limited, and car parking at the venue remains an issue.”

In another letter to this paper Jules Caithness, of Fermanagh Film Club, wrote:

“This wonderful building, sited in such a gorgeous location, is a gem comparable to the best that may be found anywhere in Europe. Tragically it has been horribly neglected by successions of councils, including the current one.”

The Council are to undertake and economic appraisal into the future of the theatre with the aim that the appraisal will bring about a long list of possible options.

“As part of the Economic Appraisal process, a long list of options regarding the future of the Ardhowen must be considered. However not all of these will be included in the shortlist for final consideration,” the Council explained in its statement.

In conclusion the statement said:

“The Council welcomes the interest in the development of the Ardhowen and would encourage all those with an interest to provide their feedback on possible options for its development as the consultation process is rolled out over the coming months.”