West End Producer, Sonia Friedman, says 70 per cent of our performing arts companies will be out of business before the end of this year. More than 1,000 theatres around the country will be insolvent and might shut down for good.
The Wharf Theatre, a renovated warehouse, situated on the canal in Devizes has been attracting audience members, volunteers and creatives from all over Wiltshire and west Hampshire for over 40 years. The community venue, with capacity for 96 people, offers an array of community and professional productions ranging from musicals, plays, talks, youth productions, schools shows, comedians and concerts. The theatre hosts around 26 productions a year attracting more than 4000 visitors. The Wharf is supported by a team of over 80 volunteers, 200 members and has been registered as an asset of community value by Wiltshire Council.
Oli Beech, Chairman, says “Community theatre is a unique setting in that being on stage is one small part of the whole organisation, our theatre has something for everyone, an array of performance art mediums, support back stage, managing a venue, hosting community, schools and local amateur dramatic groups as well as professional work, and providing workshops.”
Proceeds from donations, venue hire, and self-produced productions contribute to the overheads and ongoing maintenance of the theatre. Keeping the venue open costs around £60,000 per year. Sadly, due to the COVID pandemic, the theatre had to close its doors in March 2020. This would normally be the start of the Spring/ Summer programme. This entire season has now been cancelled resulting in a £30,000 shortfall in income. With no income, and yet utilities, rent, performance rights, production budgets, and outstanding invoices to be paid the theatre is now running very low on reserves. Various grant applications have been made and the trustees are awaiting the outcome of these applications. However, they are looking to the local community to support the theatre by donating much needed money. A Just Giving fundraising campaign is being launched; https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/wharftheatre
Mr Beech added, “We cannot see our beautiful little community theatre close due to this pandemic. We are seeking funding to support and enable the theatre to survive past this, meaning we can open our doors once more as a venue for people to explore theatre. Search for our Just Giving Page to support us, or contact email@example.com to make a personal donation and follow our social media pages.”