Friday, April 16, 2021

News: Funding boost for Rotherham Theatres but reopening delayed

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Rotherham Theatres has secured a further £55,272 but any reopening is unlikely to be until the Autumn 2021.

Rotherham Civic Theatre has not traded since March 2020 due to Covid restrictions and was hoping to reopen in the Spring.

Social distancing rules effectively meant that the auditorium could only accommodate 10% of its usual capacity, so reopening would not be viable and would not offer the quality of experience usually experienced by audiences.

Instead, operators, Rotherham Council took the difficult decision to close the facility for the entire financial year.

The closure, and loss of associated income, has led to a £453k pressure on Council budgets, but funding has been secured from the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. £55,272 from the second round adds to the £131,644 secured from the first round of the Arts Council England administered fund.

The Council is now set to carry out a refurbishment of the front of house and bar areas at the Civic.

The theatre accommodates a range of touring and local musical, comedy and theatrical performances. The building on Catherine Street in the town centre is a converted church and was purchased by the Council prior to being converted into a theatre in 1960.

£540,000 was allocated by the authority in 2012 to carry out much-needed repairs and refurbishment of both the interior and exterior of the building. The works were expected to bring the theatre up to a condition which would give a further ten years life.

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An update to councillors said: "Rotherham Civic Theatre has not traded since March 2020 due to the restrictions applied to performing arts venues. During this time the service has hosted a number of online programmes including a monthly comedy club in partnership with ten other venues across the country and a social media pantomime which spanned well known landmarks and venues across the borough.

"In October 2020 the theatre secured £131,644 from the Arts Council England administered Culture Recovery Fund. The funding has enabled the service to retain its core staff team, invest in research & development and CPD [Continuing Professional Development] for the team to create new delivery models with a greater focus on outreach, engagement and learning.

"The theatre is not expected to open until Autumn 2021 as current government regulation has not allowed for companies to rehearse and strict guidance relating to performance venues remains in place. Over the next seven months there will be a programme of refurbishment for the front of house areas in the theatre ensuring that the venue offers a high-quality welcome to residents when restrictions are lifted."

The Council budget has also promised a price freeze at the theatre to encourage return of custom following Covid forced closure.

The Visitors’ Centre within the Makers' Emporium on the High Street has also remained closed for much of the pandemic and will reopen alongside government guidelines in Spring/Summer 2021. The Council said that: "Its location and offer are not focussed on tourism and the relocation of the box office back to the theatre will diminish footfall. A review will be undertaken in 2021 to consider alternative proposals, including an online alternative and ultimately a presence at the new library complex."

A new library is planned alongside a revamped markets.

Rotherham Theatres website

Images: Google Maps

5 comments:

Mr me April 16, 2021 at 11:55 AM  

A ne larger more modern venue, should be built, the forge island development wouldve been a perfect locality or guest and chrimes site, a Riverside venue. To have all your entertainment in same area is best, would be bustling in evenings. As usual missed opportunity from RMBC.

Rothguy April 16, 2021 at 7:14 PM  

Wait on it getting time to reopen and then decide to do a refurbishment well done council

Anonymous,  April 19, 2021 at 11:16 AM  

With all the money wasted on hair brain schemes, council could've built a new theatre as proposed originally on forge island

Anonymous,  April 19, 2021 at 1:00 PM  

I would've liked to have seen them buy the Mecca bingo hall on Corporation Street and convert that into a theatre.

Anonymous,  April 19, 2021 at 8:53 PM  

I’m sure it was originally planning on the old courthouse/ forge island site ? Instead it’s looking like they are planning small two/three story houses in a prime spot! Lack of ambition again

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