Blackpool Grand Theatre has been successful in its application for £483,666 to the Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Grant Scheme.
The grant, which aims to support the theatre whilst it is unable to open with consistently financially viable productions, will pay to keep a small staff team in place to look after the building and its business through until 31 March 2021. It will also underwrite the cost of unavoidable job losses, preparations to re-open with covid-secure provisions in place and help rebuild the theatre’s reserves, ready to be able to return to full operation when this is possible.
Tony Stone, Chairman of the Charity which operates the Grand said “We are beyond grateful to be awarded this grant by the Government. It is an absolute life-line. Since March we have been unable to earn any income as shows have cancelled or postponed. We have relied on generous individual donations from our supporters, along with grant support from Arts Council England and Blackpool Council, plus the Furlough scheme to avoid insolvency. This additional grant makes the difference between permanent closure and the potential to return when it is safe and viable to do so”.
Roger Lloyd Jones, Chairman of the Charity which owns the Grade II* Listed, Frank Matcham Theatre said “The Grand is a jewel in Blackpool’s crown. It is a beautiful heritage asset but, most importantly of all, it is a working theatre which entertains, inspires and educates thousands of local audience members and workshop participants every year. Throughout this period of closure, we have been caring for this lovely historic building and now, this grant gives us the opportunity to breathe life back into it when things return to something like normal in the near future. I’d like to thank the Government for this vital support.”
John Grady, Chairman of the Friends of the Grand, which has provided financial and voluntary support to the theatre since the early 1970s said “this is really wonderful. The Friends of the Grand are part of the fabric of this beautiful theatre. In normal times we stuff envelopes, tear tickets and sell coffee to thousands of loyal customers. Since March we have been unable to support our favourite theatre as it has been unable to open. We realise that we still don’t know when this will be possible, but this fantastic grant will, at least, mean that we can prepare to return when circumstances allow. It’s wonderful”.
Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive of the Grand said “it is with very mixed feelings that I welcome news of this grant. It comes at a time when we have had no choice but to put our entire team, including myself, at risk of redundancy and in consultation about reduced terms and conditions of employment. With no work and no place of work available to our 57-strong team and the Furlough scheme ending, we have no choice but to reduce the headcount at the theatre. This is to ensure we can slow down the speed with which cash is flowing out of our reserves. I’d like to thank my dedicated and hard-working team, plus board members and volunteers for their tremendous support and forbearance at this difficult time. This grant is designed to help our theatre recover from the tremendous blow that Covid-19 had dealt, not just to us, but to the entire theatre and arts industry. We will use it wisely to be ready to invest in welcoming audiences, artists and staff, safely back into the beautiful Grand when we can”.
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