The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has launched a campaign to help begin preparations to re-open the iconic playhouse.
It is hoping to raise £50,000 as part of “The Show Will Go On” appeal and has already received backing from a number of stars and personalities.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has delivered a devastating blow to every sector of the community. Theatres are used to fighting for funding but as the Theatre Royal is currently closed, almost all of their income has ceased.
They receive crucial public authority funding from Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Councils, but this makes up a small percentage of what is needed to survive. They are very fortunate to have ongoing and loyal support from patrons, friends, major and corporate sponsors – without whom (even in normal times) they simply could not survive – as a charity this support is vital to their survival.
Theatre Royal received an Arts Council Emergency Response Grant to help them through this challenging time. This grant provides them with some breathing space but they need to build a bigger pot to raise the essential funds to start to re-open when lockdown eases.
Reopening a theatre is not straightforward – they need time and money to programme and promote the season; for their own shows they need to cast and rehearse, shows – their income will not simply leap back to what is what before the crisis.
“The return to normality is likely to be a long journey – please support this campaign to ensure that our much-loved theatre will be in a position to come out of this long dark period as strong as ever. With your help we can start to put plans in place to re-open our doors once again,” said Roger Quince, the chairman of Theatre Royal Board of Trustees
For 200 years Theatre Royal has brought significant economic benefit into the local economy.
The theatre brings joy to Bury St Edmunds by bringing the best live theatre, telling stories that inspire and welcoming big names in the world of theatre, television and film to the stage.
Through their outreach programme the theatre aims to inspire young people, to give local people a voice, to serve the community and to engage marginalised groups for whom theatre and the arts may otherwise be inaccessible.
As a theatre, it helps and support their brilliant family of freelancers (writers, producers, set designers, technicians, actors to name but a few) to create new work.
Adrian Grady, Theatre Royal general manager and interim CEO, said: “We were heartbroken to close our theatre and there are many challenging times ahead but Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has stood strong for 200 years and we will continue to do so. We’re determined to welcome our audiences back and we’re asking for help from the community of Bury St Edmunds, this brilliant town, to help us to do this so that the show can go on.”
And Armando Iannucci, director and producer of the hit film “The Personal History of David Copperfield”, added: “We had a great time filming at the fabulous Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. Like all theatres, it and its staff have been hit hard by the Covid lockdown and if this beautiful and historic theatre is to open its doors again and become what it has always been, a working theatre in the community, then it’ll need a tremendous amount of help from every quarter. I’m urging everyone to help where they can as the Theatre Royal launches its emergency appeal.”
Sir Derek Jacobi added: “Having spent many happy hours in its beautiful auditorium and on its marvellous stage, I urge you to support this appeal to re-open Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, so that she can be saved for generations to enjoy,” added Sir Derek Jacobi.
Gyles Brandreth said: “This has been a traumatising time for theatres across the land and we need to rally to the cause. I know the Theatre Royal has many friends and now is the time to stand up in the stalls, not just for a standing ovation but to be counted. Dig deep if you can to support this jewel in the crown of British theatre. It really is one of the best and we want to be saying ‘Encore!’ for many years to come.”
And well-known pantomime dame Chris Clarkson, aka Tiger Lily, said: “I’ve been cooped up on my own with not even the sniff of romance for nearly 10 weeks. Even Tiger Lily has needs you know. What I really need right now is for my beloved Theatre Royal to open its doors so I can be re-united with Smee, the love of my life. I’d like to be a lot closer to him than two metres I can tell you but if that’s what we have to do I will to my best to be restrained. Theatres are having a rum old time and what I’d like you to do is donate a few pounds to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds emergency appeal. It’s a lovely old theatre with lots of lovely dark nooks and crannies where you can have a secret little smooch. I would be so upset if it couldn’t re-open. My Smee would be devastated too. Do what you can my lovelies and you’ll make an old Tiger Lily very happy.”