‘Wonderful news’ about Blackpool’s Grand Theatre!
Jimmy Cricket has welcomed the news that the Blackpool Grand Theatre is to get a government recovery grant.
It was suggested in August the theatre could close because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Management had warned the venue might have to shut unless the UK government intervened.
Like other provincial theatres, which depend largely on box office receipts to keep going, it has not received any income since the lockdown began.
Popular comedian Jimmy said at the time that the closure of the iconic theatre would be a “tragedy”.
But the theatre, which first opened in 1894, has succeeded in its application for £483,666 to the government’s COVID-19 Recovery Grant Scheme.
Jimmy described it on social media as “wonderful news”.
The grant aims to support the theatre while it is unable to open with consistently financially viable productions.
The theatre’s website said it would pay to keep a small staff team in place to look after the building and its business until 31 March 2021.
It will also underwrite the cost of unavoidable job losses and preparations to reopen with covid-secure provisions in place.
Additionally, it would help to rebuild the theatre’s reserves and enable it to return to full operation when 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 lifeline. Since March we have been unable to earn any income as shows have cancelled or postponed.
“This additional grant makes the difference between permanent closure and the potential to return when it is safe and viable to do so.”
John Grady, chairman of the Friends of the Grand, said: “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.”
Ruth Eastwood, the theatre’s chief executive, welcomed the news “with very mixed feelings”.
She said the entire team were 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,” she explained.
“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.”