The people of Preston need and want to keep the Guild Hall, a survey by the Evening Post has found.
An overwhelming 88 per cent of people want to keep the popular venue - but more than a third think better management and leadership is needed.
The Evening Post launched the survey after council chiefs revealed the venue could be sold or a new management company brought into the run the building.
Council chiefs say they are ‘open to options’ about the future of the venue and are ‘seeking ideas’ from industry experts about the way forward.
When it comes to describing the venue 45 per cent said they thought it was a ‘very good entertainment venue’ but 20 per cent said it is ‘not suitable for 2013’.
The 13 question survey had been running on the Evening Post website, and asked people a number of questions, including topics about prices, management and what is to blame for its current predicament. The survey shows that 95 per cent of people enjoyed their experience at the Guild Hall when they visited and said it met with their expectations and 90 per cent said they felt it was value for money.
The results also show that only 20 per cent of people visit the venue more than once a year, with the majority (35 per cent) visiting just once every 12 months.
A total of 77 per cent of those asked said they think the prices are ‘about right’ and 28 per cent of people think increased competition from bigger venues in the North West is the reason for the current situation, but 27 per cent blame the council’s political leaders and 61 per cent think that a change of management or ownership would revitalise the Guild Hall.
More than half of the respondents (55 per cent) said they shopped in the guild hall complex.
Deputy leader of Preston Council Coun John Swindells, said: “There’s no real surprises there, we probably agree with everything that is in there.
“We would like to see it continue it is just whether the council can afford it.
“We are exploring everything to keep it open in Preston.
“It is clear it is too small for the big names, the concerts in Manchester attract 15,000 people paying £50 each. Acts won’t come here like they used to.
“It is the flexibility we need to get, where we could have small intimate gigs, that’s what we need but we can’t afford, not on our own.
“We are exploring everything we can. The last thing we want to do is close it, we will do anything possible to keep it open under the financial constraints we have.”
Pantomime star and radio presenter Ted Robbins, who will star in his fifth panto at the Guild Hall this year, said: “When you do something you have got to do it 100 per cent. There’s this idea that the arts aren’t as important as other things, I think arts make us what we are.
“It is about being pro active, getting the best people in will get people to come to the city.
“I have an affection for the place and it saddens me that imagination is not being used.
“I would be one for a big charity show to raise money and to raise the profile but I think it needs more than that.”
Derek Smith from the Preston Twinning Partnership, who organised the Big Guild Gig which took place at the Charter Theatre last year said he thinks the results reflect the general view of the public.
He added: “It needs some promotion and some encouragement to get the public to attend, whether that is big names or prices that reflect what people are willing to pay.
“The council are not experts in promoting, entertaining, concerts and whatever, I think they have go to explore getting an entertainment company in.”
A spokesman for Preston Council added: “The council is currently seeking ideas and proposals about the Guild Hall. Deadline for those submissions is 30 September.
“Any decisions on the Guild Hall will be made by elected councillors.”
Building of the Guild Hall began in 1969 and it eventually opened in 1973.
It should have opened in the Guild year of 1972 but there was a builders’ strike.
In 1999 it was significantly refurbished through a £4m Arts Lottery grant.
The venue plays host to productions, shows, concerts, events, exhibitions and conferences and attracts more than 300,000 visitors each year.