Council taxpayers will pay £671,000 to keep Camberley's Artslink theatre afloat during the current financial year.

The sky high figure includes an additional £89,570 subsidy which was approved by Surrey Heath Council's policy committee last week.

Policy committee members were told the extra handout was needed because income estimates for the current financial year had been too optimistic.

Takings at the box office and bar are much lower than forecast, with the result that the estimated surplus at the end of the year will not be met.

Spending on heating and lighting, as well as repairs and maintenance, is also more than budgeted for. Management blames the unexpected drop in takings on the September 11 terrorist attack in America.

The ArtsLink working party said it was unhappy that it was necessary to stump up an extra £89,570 when the council was trying to cut the theatre's subsidy.

But it recognised there was no alternative due to the "misrepresentation" surrounding the theatre's current budget.

In a bid to boost the theatre's takings, the council has decided to change the name to The Camberley Theatre at a cost of £6,100.

The name will be officially unveiled on December 15, the opening night of this year's pantomime, the "Beauty and the Beast".

Despite the new image, the cash strapped theatre is still set to lose £12,037 a week from next April.

Trying to look on the bright side, a council spokesman said: "We've drawn up a new business plan which looks to reduce the subsidy by about £50,000 next year."