The Georgian Theatre Royal has been awarded £52,960 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help arts organisations face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future.
Richmond’s historic theatre is one of 1,385 arts and cultural organisations – including theatres and theatre companies, galleries, museums and arts centres – across the country receiving urgently needed support.
The £257 million of investment announced this week is part of the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.
Like many performing arts venues, The Georgian Theatre has been closed for live performances since March of this year with plans to remain ‘dark’ until at least Spring 2021. This rescue grant will support the Theatre’s overheads, which would normally be covered by income from ticket sales and other activities.
The funding will also enable the Theatre to continue to provide its guided heritage tours during the winter months. Normally, the tour season ends in October but the additional money means that tours will continue Monday to Friday throughout November, December and January. There are also plans to run special events such as festive tours and evening candlelit tours, in addition to the regular scheduled tours taking place on the hour between 10am and 4pm.
Those visiting the Theatre in the next few months will also be able to view the progress of the auditorium development project designed to provide more comfortable seating as well as improved views of the stage. This ambitious capital works project has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation so that the transformation could be carried out whilst live performances are suspended.
“The Theatre may be closed for shows and we are missing our audiences desperately but this latest funding boost will enable us to 'stay afloat' until the time we can begin performances again - financially secure, virus safe and with new comfy seats to welcome people back,” said Clare Allen, Chief Executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal.
“We are extremely grateful to all those who are supporting us during this very uncertain and turbulent time, from Government agencies to those kind and generous individuals who have sent in donations or declined to accept ticket refunds. Between us all, we can ensure that this amazing Theatre - that has been in existence since 1788 - can continue to enhance the rich cultural life of our community for many years to come. The current closure is temporary but we are all resolved that our little gem of a Theatre is permanent!” She added.
On announcing the first round of funding, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.
“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”
Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences.”
The latest grant is in addition to a £35,000 award given to the Georgian Theatre in May as part of the Arts Council’s Covid-19 Emergency Support funds.