“It’s time for theatres to think about how they can re-open to serve their communities”
Storyhouse has announced today that it will re-open as soon as the government allows and as early as 4th July. The charity runs a cultural and community hub that incorporates a theatre, cinema, library and restaurant, welcoming over 1m customers a year.
The charity recently stated it was in a “straightforward fight for survival” after it was forced to postpone its open-air theatre season, which accounted for one fifth of its annual ticketed income and costs £¾m to stage.
Currently UK theatres are left with no information on how or when they will be allowed to re-open. Storyhouse however have said they will open as soon as any part of its business is able to do so safely. The government currently expect cinemas to open on 4th July.
CEO Andrew Bentley said “Like every other theatre in the country we are fighting to survive, and that jeopardy is very real unless something changes. There are plenty of headlines about theatres going into hibernation, we are a diverse business so that’s not for us. We will be open and supporting our community from day one, just as they are showing such support for us right now. It’s time for the country’s theatres to think about how they can re-open to serve their communities”
Storyhouse has seen membership increase by two thousand over the last week as its customers rush to shore up the charity. It recently launched the country’s first no-commitment theatre membership programme, which costs £4 a month, as a way of galvanising support.
It is also preparing to launch a drive-in cinema season, Moonlight Drive, from early July to sit alongside its popular open-air cinema, along with plans to turn its main theatre into a cinema until Christmas. Artistic Director Alex Clifton said “We’ll do what we can. If theatres aren’t going to be able to stage shows in the autumn, then we’re not going to wait. If we can’t gather people together around a stage, we’ll bring them together around a screen. We will open in any way we can to safely serve our community with great stories and joyful shared experiences. We will relentlessly pursue our mission at this time when our diverse communities need us most.”
“We’ve managed to keep over two thirds of our entire community programme going during lockdown, that’s over 350 online participation sessions since we closed on 16th March – language classes, karaoke, home schooling, reading clubs and storytelling. The first moment we are able, we will reopen our doors to support in person – particularly our more vulnerable communities. We need to start paying back this overwhelming support in whatever way we can.
“The country is awash with some of the most creative community-led cultural organisations imaginable. But times are hard. If all our customers were to become members, we’d be secure, strong, and independent forever.”