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‘They don’t deserve this’ - Theatre cuts staff as coronavirus fightback continues

PUBLISHED: 15:26 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 25 August 2020

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Inset: Emma Butler-Smith. Picture: Mick Howes/Marina Theatre

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Inset: Emma Butler-Smith. Picture: Mick Howes/Marina Theatre

Mick Howes/Marina Theatre

A town’s theatre which is attempting to raise £100,000 to recover from the impact of coronavirus has announced 11 members of staff have been made redundant.

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft illuminated in red. Picture: Mick HowesThe Marina Theatre in Lowestoft illuminated in red. Picture: Mick Howes

Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre has made the cuts following the end of a staff consultation process, with 24 zero and variable hours staff also given notice last month.

The move comes as a bid to restructure the theatre’s staffing model as it attempts to overcome the effect of lockdown, which saw the curtain drawn on performances for a number of months.

Emma Butler Smith, chief executive, said: “It is devastating to have to make these decisions.

“Marina staff are our theatre’s lifeblood, they really are a family and losing them is hard for everyone.

Emma Butler-Smith, chief executive of the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.Emma Butler-Smith, chief executive of the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.

“I can only pay tribute to their loyalty, commitment and hard work.

“They don’t deserve this, and they will be sorely missed.”

Last month, the theatre called on the community to back a campaign to raise £100,000 to save the site which started life in the 1870s.

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With more than 300 shows cancelled, the theatre is facing an estimated loss of income of more than £420,000.

The theatre warned last month at the start of a staff consultation that “up to 71pc” of roles were at risk, while others could be made part-time.

David Blyth, chair of the Marina Theatre Trust Board, said: “The economic climate for theatres is desperate at the moment, but the trust remains committed to staying alive in the heart of Lowestoft.

“We are having to take drastic and painful actions now, but plan to open with a reduced programme of films and café in the autumn.

“We want to keep our theatre going.

“In hard times, it’s all the more important to have places like the Marina where people can meet and enjoy themselves.”

More than £1,000 had been donated within the first hour of the survival appeal, with the current total standing at more than £15,000.

Yet with current social distancing guidelines, the theatre remains closed, with shows cancelled or on hold until December.

To make a donation visit www.marinatheatre.co.uk or call 01502 533200.


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