WORCESTER'S Swan Theatre has been handed a big boost over its long-term future after council chiefs agreed a new management deal lasting 25 years.

Worcester City Council has decided to renew its leasing offer over the popular venue, calling it "win-win" for the public.

A long-term lease over the theatre has been handed to the Bransford Trust, which is pioneering plans for a new cultural quarter at the old Royal Worcester Porcelain.

The trust, ran by former city businessman Colin Kinnear, will then sub-lease it to Worcester Live, which has been running the Swan Theatre since 2003.

The current lease will expire in January and the new deal will up the potential for the city's biggest performing arts venue to bid for new grants.

Worcester Live delivers a massive programme of arts across the city including Huntingdon Hall, Shakespeare at The Commandery, Shakespeare at The Cathedral and the annual Worcester Festival extravaganza.

Under the new deal the trust will take on a 99-year lease and sub-lease it to the company for 25 years.

A new city council report on the move says the long-term security is "essential to securing a sustainable future for the Swan Theatre", with the current shorter-term offers hampering its ability to access grant funding.

The report says apart from ticket sales and the bar, Worcester Live "remains heavily dependent" on sponsors and annual grants for the venue.

The council offers up an annual grant of £69,000 and says the deal will cost the trust just £1 per year.

It has now been endorsed by the authority's Conservative cabinet, which has backed the move.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, the deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, city centre and riverside, said: "I've read the report three times now, because I can't believe how good it is.

"It's win-win all round."

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the leader, added: "The essence of this is that it enables the Swan Theatre to get more external investment, which we all know is difficult.

"It's a cornerstone organisation in terms of the cultural offer of this city, we all know how much Worcester Live does."

The city's opposition Labour group has also welcomed the move, with Councillor Roger Berry saying: "Anything that delivers greater security for The Swan has to be welcomed."