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‘Desperate’ theatres go red as arts sector flounders

PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:43 07 July 2020

Sheringham Little Theatre volunteers Tilda Fassih, left and Katie Thompson decorate the venue's windows with red bunting as part of a Light It In Red campaign. The campaign was to attention to the dire situation the performing arts are in after months of lockdown. Picture: SLT

Sheringham Little Theatre volunteers Tilda Fassih, left and Katie Thompson decorate the venue's windows with red bunting as part of a Light It In Red campaign. The campaign was to attention to the dire situation the performing arts are in after months of lockdown. Picture: SLT

Archant

North Norfolk theatres have turned red to highlight the plight of the performing arts sector, which is struggling to survive after months of lockdown.

Cromer Pier's Pavilion Theatre lit up a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the plight of the performing arts. Picture: Brad DammsCromer Pier's Pavilion Theatre lit up a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the plight of the performing arts. Picture: Brad Damms

Floodlights bathed Cromer Pier’s Pavilion Theatre in red after sunset on July 6, while red decorations including bunting, a star and candles were placed in the windows of Sheringham Little Theatre.

It was part of a national Light It In Red campaign involving scores of venues, many of which are facing closure or staff cut-backs.

And although the government has announced a £1.57 billion relief package for arts, theatre leaders have called for more details and an idea of when they can reopen.

Deb Lewis, the Pavilion Theatre’s box office, marketing and retail manager, said the display was a lovely gesture to mark a desperate situation.

Cromer Pier's Pavilion Theatre lit up a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the plight of the performing arts. Picture: Paul Macro/paulmacrolandscapes.comCromer Pier's Pavilion Theatre lit up a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the plight of the performing arts. Picture: Paul Macro/paulmacrolandscapes.com

“This isn’t just about us, but all the performers, the tech crews, it’s a terrible time for the whole industry,” she said.

As well as its popular summer and Christmas variety shows, the Pavilion hosts around 50 touring shows a year, with everyone involved now effectively on hold.

Ms Lewis said: “We’re aiming to produce a Christmas show but we don’t know what the restrictions will be, and we’re waiting to hear more before we can make any decisions.”

Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said the venue was facing four redundancies, which was two thirds of its staff.

Cromer Pier's Pavilion Theatre lit up a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the plight of the performing arts. Picture: Paul Macro/paulmacrolandscapes.comCromer Pier's Pavilion Theatre lit up a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the plight of the performing arts. Picture: Paul Macro/paulmacrolandscapes.com

Mrs Thompson said: “The furlough scheme has been amazing, but we have to start paying toward this in August it’s going to be impossible for us to continue with the level of staff that we have got.”

Mrs Thompson said the theatre’s cafe would reopen next week, and they hoped to screen films later this month. She said the theatre’s patron, Lord Walpole, had offered the use of Mannington Hall’s grounds for outdoor performances. She said: “We’re hopeful we can do something there in August, to raise money for the theatre and engage with our audience again.”

Mrs Thompson praised the government’s rescue package, but said what they most needed was a reopening date.

She said: “It is very generous and welcome news, but we don’t know the details of how it’s going to be distributed yet, and we’re desperate for timescales because it’s so difficult to plan.”

Red candles and a star were put in the window of Sheringham Little Theatre, as part of a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the dire situation the performing arts are in after months of lockdown. Picture: SLTRed candles and a star were put in the window of Sheringham Little Theatre, as part of a Light It In Red campaign to draw attention to the dire situation the performing arts are in after months of lockdown. Picture: SLT

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