Curtain closing on struggling Vic theatre

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A scheduled auction to sell the historic Victory Theatre in Johannesburg next week could mark the end of a three-year battle to save it from financial ruin.

Home to the renowned African musical ‘Umoja’, the theatre was built in 1920 and is one of the oldest in the city.

But an ongoing battle between owner Joe Theron and music corporations Sony and Gallo placed the theatre under such dire financial strain that all the best efforts to save it have been fruitless. In what has become a very drawn-out court case, Sony and Gallo are demanding compensation for three ‘Umoja’ songs they claim were used without permission.

The theatre was set to be auctioned with a reserve price of R33-million some three years ago in July 2010, when Theron admitted financial defeat, but failure to sell led to its official liquidation. Another auction was scheduled for November 2012, but liquidators agreed to hold off on recovering the R15 million bond debt while the theatre launched the Save Umoja campaign to raise some money.

“It will be a sad day for all of s after putting so much effort into saving this place,” Theron said to the Sowetan.

“We’ve done the best we could and it’s a pity that even the bank was not kind to us.”

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