Panto banner sparks row – oh yes it does!

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A storm has erupted over the placement of a banner publicising Arbroath’s pantomime, with Angus Council asked to show some respect to local groups.

Members of the cast of the local production in Brechin have voiced their anger on Facebook, feeling they are not being supported by Angus Council

Joe Hawk – who is an active member of the theatrical community within Brechin – contacted the Brechin Advertiser to express his annoyance over the matter. He said: “As someone who is regularly involved with the various shows and events that are held in the City Hall, I’m a bit angry and even more disappointed on seeing a very large banner across from the Co-op, advertising Arbroath’s professional pantomime.

“As most of you will know, Combined Productions perform a pantomime locally every year for the public of Brechin, and they rely on the support of those who live in the town and outwith to be able to continue to raise the funds needed to entertain you all.

“I’m sure that as a group, they would never consider trying to display flyers and posters advertising the ‘Brechin’ pantomime in neighbouring towns such as Montrose, Forfar or Kirrie, who perform their own pantomimes, due to respect for fellow societies and groups.

He concluded: “I fully understand that every society, both amateur and professional, have to promote their own shows in order to encourage potential audience members, but I would have thought that Angus Council would have some respect for the hard work that goes into each show by supporting local societies to perform to their public, rather than putting up large banners in every town advertising ‘their’ professional show.”

Although faced with criticism over the banner, Angus Council claimed it does not see the advertising as being conflicting to other local groups.

A council spokesperson said: “Webster Theatre is run on a professional, commercial basis like similar venues throughout Scotland.

“We are delighted that the pantomime Babes in the Woods is proving so successful, and do not see it as conflicting with other pantomimes and other Christmas shows being staged in towns and villages throughout Angus.

“We hope that people will enjoy local amateur shows as well as the professional pantomime being performed at the Webster Theatre.”

This comment did not go down well with some, with Laura Ferguson commenting: “I’m really disappointed to see the comment made by the council spokesperson.

“It just shows how out of touch the council really is with things going on in the local area.

“However, maybe there is a hidden agenda behind the council trying to kill off local groups, as then they wouldn’t have to pay for the upkeep of the local halls!

“I work with the Brechin Panto group, and this year we have 35-plus kids going on stage, all of whom work extremely hard between August and December – often twice a week – in order to entertain the local public.

“If these professional pantos steal our audiences and numbers fall, then we can’t afford to continue putting on the panto every year, then what are these kids going to do?

“Especially with such an emphasis on getting young people to ‘do something productive’ these days.

This year’s Brechin pantomime – which is being staged by Brechin Combined Productions (a collaboration between Brechin Amateur Operatic Society and Opus Theatre Club) – will run at the City Hall at 7.30 p.m. from Wednesday, December 4, to Saturday, December 7, with a matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 p.m.

The production team consists of the talented Graeme Baird, producer; and Ron Stewart, musical director; with the newly-added Laura Ferguson as the choreographer.

Keep an eye out for more information about the show and where to buy tickets in future editions of the Brechin Advertiser.