Cash boost for seaside theatre as thoughts turn to life after lockdown

Debbie Thompson, director fo Sheringham Little Theatre. Picture: Richard Batson

Debbie Thompson, director fo Sheringham Little Theatre. Picture: Richard Batson - Credit: Archant

Surviving the lockdown has just been made a little easier for one north Norfolk theatre.

Sheringham Little Theatre Credit: SLT

Sheringham Little Theatre Credit: SLT - Credit: Archant

Arts Council England has granted Sheringham Little Theatre £20,000, which comes from a £160 million National Lottery emergency pot aimed at taking pressure off cultural organisations hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

Debbie Thompson, theatre director, said: “We are so grateful to all the National Lottery players who’ve made it possible for us to receive this money.

“Through good housekeeping we have built up some cash reserves, but months of closure and no income will take its toll, so this grant from the Arts Council emergency response fund is invaluable to us.

“It helps compensate for the loss of our 60th anniversary summer drama season – now postponed until next year - so it has given us a breathing space until it becomes clearer when lockdown might end.”

Mrs Thompson said the theatre’s team were thinking “outside the box” about how they could provide entertainment in different formats and other venues in the future.

She said: “Being an intimate little theatre is one of our attractions – but it does make social distancing very difficult, not just in the 160-seater auditorium but also in the corridors and toilets.

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The theatre is dealing with refunds for the shows it has had to cancel – currently up until September 5.

But Mrs Thompson added: “We are so grateful to the many customers who have either donated their ticket prices to our funds, or opted for a credit note for when we reopen, which really helps our cash flow in the difficult times.”

With most of the theatre staff currently furloughed during lockdown, volunteer trustees have been helping keep the venue alive by maintaining a flow of information and entertainment on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media channels. They include online shows and fun from musicians and actors.

The first week of June is National Volunteers Week, and the Little Theatre - which has large army of unpaid helpers, from café servers to seat ushers – is keeping in touch with them as their support, along with its sponsors, friends and members, will be vital when it re-emerges from lockdown.