Cheshire East Council said it has a shortlist of firms interested in taking on management of Crewe's historic Lyceum Theatre but declined to name them.
The council's cabinet will vote today on whether to formally proceed with the invitation to tender stage of procuring a partner. More than 55 firms expressed an interest and this led to four formal bids for the contract. Under the terms of the deal, Cheshire East Council would retain ownership of the Lyceum and appoint the winner as a new management company. A preferred bidder could be chosen by the autumn.
Cllr Rod Menlove, Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said: "We understand only too well the importance of securing the theatre's future. The fact that several parties have expressed a real interest in working with us to achieve this is great news.
"The Lyceum Theatre is a much-loved institution that is at the very heart of the local community and it has a proud and rich history, playing host to so many memorable events over the years.
"Our aim is for this to continue. We want to work with a partner who has fresh ideas and enthusiasm and the experience to match the council's wishes for the theatre to remain as an important cultural asset and to improve the theatrical offer for visitors."
Cllr Michael Jones, Cabinet member with responsibility for resources, said: "This is a very exciting opportunity to safeguard the future of the Lyceum and enable it to be the best it can be. But we have to be realistic.
"The Lyceum is a valuable community asset which is of benefit to the whole community – so it's important that we get it right. The Lyceum is a jewel in the crown of Crewe."