TRINITY Theatre is on track to raise £100,000 by the end of this month and save the venue from closure.
As of yesterday (February 7), the total stood at over £42,500, with nearly £9,000 in Gift Aid.
“We look very, very likely to get over this bump in the road,” said Chief Executive Nick Mowat stressing that Trinity’s shortfall was a result of poor box-office takings and problems which were now being addressed.
He believed the management now knew the full extent of all the debts and costs which had to be met, specifying: “We have now paid for Christmas.
“We have tried principally to look after local businesses in the first instance, but we are now at the point of the next tranche [of bills] being sorted out.
“We are managing our finances with an incredible amount of detail – we go through our creditors list probably twice a week now.”
But he said: “I want to be very clear this is a bump in the road, and we have a very robust budget for next year – and a programme.”
Management changes had played their role in the arts centre’s troubles, he acknowledged.
When Mr Mowat became acting Chief Executive he ‘started to lift stones to look underneath’.
And he added: “The board only in December properly discussed [the situation] for the first time.”
He defended former Artistic Director Sean Turner – who resigned at the beginning of January – pointing to the management vacuum which had left Mr Turner, a Theatre Director, covering the business side of Trinity.
“As a director, I can’t fault him at all,” said Mr Mowat. “It was a case of a square peg in a round hole.”
When the Annual General Meeting was held 12 days after the New Year, he said: “That was when the fundraiser was launched. But the writing was on the wall.”
TRINITY LOOKS TO THE FUTURE
TRINITY has three sources of income – supporters, sponsors and the box office.
“The biggest of the three is the box office – or it should be,” said acting chief executive Nick Mowat.
However, in the wake of Trinity’s fundraising call in January, which revealed box office takings were 60 per cent down since 2019, he laid out more detail on the arts centre’s plan to make its cultural programme more attractive and more profitable.
One thing the centre currently lacks is space – or ‘spaces’ to bring in more income from the 200-year-old building, he told the Times.
“I can’t say we are working to capacity, but we are to the capacity of the resources we currently have (including staff).”
However, he added: “We are in the last stages of taking over the lease to the Pump Room (on The Pantiles). This gives us visibility at that end of town. It can be a satellite.
“I’ve got designs on it for Christmas,” he added.
A new Trinity logo – currently in the works – will be applied to every production or Trinity-staffed programme in order to raise the arts centre’s profile outside its Church Road location, he said.
“Everything we are involved with will have that recognisable logo, and people will say: ‘It will be good because it’s Trinity’.”
Even the retirement living complex planned for the former cinema site opposite Trinity, which will have a community space, could eventually become another Trinity site, he added.
The clocktower of the church building will open ‘toward the end of April’, with a plan to ask for voluntary donations but keep the access free for as long as possible, to bring people in for other activities, he confirmed.
“The café is starting to really find its feet. There have been three ‘versions’ since the pandemic, but now we have got a terrific chef and it’s a comfortable, friendly environment.”
The rest of the programme will focus on ‘quality’, whether it is populist or niche, he explained.
“Thirty minutes’ drive-time is kind of our catchment. But we will probably attract an audience from a wider area if we are possibly the only date for a show in Kent or maybe even in the South East.”
And he told gig-goers to look out for the Scottish folk-rock band Skerryvore and the Australian acrobatic theatre show the Splash Test Dummies, whose dates Trinity is currently negotiating.