Today Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has received the long-awaited news that it has been successful in its application for a £245,000 share of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
CEO and Artistic Director, Owen Calvert-Lyons, shares his joy at the news ‘This money, alongside that raised in our The Show Will Go On! appeal during the summer, is an absolute lifeline for Theatre Royal. The grant will cover the significant costs of making our building Covid-secure and go some way towards replacing the extraordinary amount of income we have lost during our closure. Most importantly, this money will enable us to get our beautiful theatre back on its feet and ensure that we are able to reopen in Spring 2021.’
The fund was administered by Arts Council England with the stated aim of ‘maintaining England’s cultural ecology by supporting organisations which were financially sustainable before Covid-19, but were at imminent risk of failure and have exhausted all other options for increasing their resilience. The investment is intended to ensure that by 31 March 2021, successful applicants are either fully or partially reopened, or if not reopened, operating on a sustainable, cost-efficient basis, so that they are able to reopen at a later date.’
The theatre believes its success in this application can be attributed to four key factors:
- cultural significance, being a 200 year-old theatre and the only working Regency playhouse in the UK
- ground-breaking and nationally celebrated Community Engagement projects which use the transformative power of art & culture to positively impact the lives of hard-to-reach, marginalised, victimised and socially isolated people in Suffolk
- its work with young people, giving them an opportunity to engage with theatre and the arts which would otherwise be inaccessible to them
- the ability to provide employment via its own in-house productions each year for a network of freelance artists, writers, producers, set designers, technicians, actors to name but a few
Theatre Royal is unlikely to welcome audiences back through its doors before Spring 2021. Owen puts the fund into context “We estimate that we have lost £800,000 in net income in this financial year to end of March 2021 compared to last year. Whilst this fund ensures our survival, it is not without some sacrifice but this Culture Recovery Fund money will allow us to continue to create and share culture with local and national audiences.’
The theatre’s recent online At Home With…series featuring celebrity pairings in conversation from their homes was a great success and more are planned before the end of the year. Walking Stories was launched last week, written by local people and professionally recorded, these free, downloadable audio-guided walks tell the little-known stories which exist all around us and this week, Theatre Royal will be announcing a very special fundraising event which will take place at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on November 1st. An Evening with none other than Vanessa Redgrave CBE and Terry Waite CBE will go on sale in the new few days.
With this fund now secured, Owen and his team can continue to respond to the current situation with new and innovative ways to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy and take part in extraordinary cultural experiences.