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Theatre launches survival appeal amid ‘devastating’ pandemic

PUBLISHED: 13:37 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:37 30 July 2020

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: VistaViews/Marina Theatre

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: VistaViews/Marina Theatre

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A popular theatre has issued a rallying call for support as it launches a survival appeal.

The Marina Theatre, in Lowestoft, is calling on the community to help with a campaign to raise £100,000 as it deals with the “devastating” affects of the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this month, the Marina Theatre Trust started a consultation with staff that could see “up to 71 per cent” of contracted roles being made redundant with others made part-time.

Now the venue has today launched ‘The Marina Theatre Survival Appeal’ that urges ‘The Show Must Go On!’ – and within the first hour of the appeal going live on its website on July 30 more than £1,000 had been raised.

With the iconic Edwardian building a significant landmark in Lowestoft, the original theatre started life in the 1870s.

Since the venue closed on March 17, theatre management said “almost all our income has dried up.”

The theatre has cancelled 325 shows so far due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a loss of income of more than £420,000.

Launching the appeal for survival, a theatre spokesman said: “Setting aside our significant losses this year, we have an opportunity to re-open in the months ahead and save at least a number of key jobs to deliver a limited programme and start planning for a better 2021.

“To do this, we need to find £100,000 in the coming weeks.

“The Covid-19 crisis has dealt the Marina Theatre a devastating blow.

“To reopen and deliver some sort of programme until social distancing can be fully lifted, we urgently need your help.

“The next few months will be crucial for our survival.”

Having cut costs and taken advantage of every government-backed scheme available to them, the spokesman added: “Public money accounts for less than 10 per cent of our £1.6m annual turnover and we work hard every year for the remaining 90pc through ticket sales, café/bar income and community participation programmes.

“Proudly relying on earned income as we do, it’s been devastating, not just financially but for our ambitions to bring to you an incredibly diverse programme.

“Since becoming a charity nearly 10 years ago, we’ve gone from strength to strength.

“Last year, over 10,000 people bought over 71,000 tickets to 467 live events and film screenings and a further 4,855 took part in our outreach programmes for people of all ages, but 2020 has been so very different for all of us and for the Marina.

“This year, we’ve cancelled 325 shows so far, with a loss of income of over £421,454.”

With the government announcing that venues like the Marina can reopen from August 1, the spokesman added: “Current social distancing measures mean it just isn’t financially viable for us to do so.

“Social distancing reduces our audience capacity from 775 to between a maximum of 98 and 196, and smaller groups means these reduce even further.

“Once you add in the extra staffing and cleaning costs, it just doesn’t add up - for us, or for our performers.

“Despite this, we are exploring other re-opening options so that we can present some kind of programme until such time as social distancing measures are fully lifted.

“However, to deliver any of those, we will need your financial support as all of them will require some level of subsidy.

“The loss of the Marina would be devastating, not just to those of us who love theatre but also to our local community and economy.

“And it isn’t just the live shows that are at risk either, it’s the workshops, the café, and the incredible outreach work which we do with local schools. “It’s the Youth Theatres, the Next Stagers, the choir, the ukulele group, and the book club.

“It’s the community which we’ve built and the friends that we’ve made.

“We are an important part of our town and many businesses around us rely on our audiences to sustain themselves.

“We have an important role to play in the recovery of Lowestoft in the months ahead and we can do that with your help.”

The theatre remains in talks with Lowestoft Town Council, East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council along with Arts Council England.

The spokesman added: “We hope you will consider helping us.

“Please donate £5, £10, £20 or whatever you can afford in these difficult times, perhaps more – if you can afford it.

“You can make a donation today and help The Marina in these financially difficult times.

“In these unprecedented times, we have to ask you to help sustain the Marina.

“Every penny you give will help us prepare to reopen and be at the heart of Lowestoft again, welcoming you back inside.”

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


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