Theatre bounces back from brink after desperate plea for funding

ARTS VENUE Trinity Theatre faces a ‘robust’ financial makeover in order for it to survive

FINANCIALLY troubled arts venue Trinity has been rescued – at least for now – within a week of launching a crowdfunder that drew an ‘incredible’ response from the public.

The theatre now faces a ‘robust’ financial makeover if it is to survive.

Residents were shocked last week when it was revealed that the community arts centre was on the edge of closing and needed £25,000 by the close of January. Something it achieved. It now needs a further £100,000 by the end of February.

Acting chief executive Nick Mowat told the Times that Trinity had approached its supporters, first those who already financially back the centre – residents and businesses – then volunteers and finally the wider public.

Speaking just a week after the Crowdfunder launch, he said: “The incredible news is that we have already hit our first target (£25,000) and exceeded it.

“People are being extraordinary.”

There are over 700 members, each paying £30, or £45 for a couple, he explained. “These were our first port of call.”

There are also seven corporate partners, paying £2,500 a year, and a dozen lower-level corporate supporters.

Expressing gratitude to all of Trinity’s donors, supporters and volunteers, he said nevertheless box office takings were 60 per cent down since before the pandemic.

And though it was ‘not unusual’ for a UK arts venue’s ticket sales to drop, he added: “We don’t get any core funding and are very reliant on our patrons.”

Asked how the venue had come so close to the edge that the first deadline was just a week, he said the venue had wanted to proceed in an ‘orderly’ fashion with its announcement and fundraiser.

However, over the Christmas period, which featured three productions including two original works, ticket sales had ‘absolutely’ been disappointing, he acknowledged.

“Nobody could fault the effort (our former artistic director) Sean Turner made to produce three shows, and people enjoyed them.

“The New Musketeers was just perhaps not the right thing to put on at Christmas.”

Stressing that there was ‘still a benefit in offering some people something a bit different, he added: “It is my firm belief that Christmas is a time when you don’t mess with people.

“And they will repay you by coming in droves.”

Mr Mowat became acting chief executive at the beginning of November and said: “Fairly soon after I started asking the right questions, it became apparent to me that this was our trajectory.”

He confirmed that the ‘trajectory’ was both financial and artistic, explaining: “I think the two things are intrinsically linked.”

He currently holds the roles of chief executive, marketing director and artistic director after the departure of Sean Turner at the start of January, and this combination would be central to the arts venue’s recovery.

“With all due respect to my predecessors, I look at the numbers with an artistic eye and look at the artistic side with a financial eye,” he said.

And he promised donors would be pouring funds into firm foundations, not a bottomless hole.

“We need to make sure we are operating in as robust a way as possible.”

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