A £50,000 Government lifeline for closure-threatened Chorley theatre in the midst of pandemic

A closure-threatened theatre has been thrown a lifeline from the Government.

Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 1:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 1:18 pm
Ian Robinson outside Chorley Theatre

Chorley Theatre theatre has received a share of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

The award should mean the Dole Lane venue’s survival is secured after the coronavirus pandemic forced its closure, starving it of cash from performances.

A delighted Ian Robinson, the theatre’s operations director, said the award - £51,025 - would go towards ongoing costs and gearing up for the future.

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He said “Like many theatres the last few months have been quite a struggle, and we’re grateful to the support and patience of Chorley folk while we have been closed.

“All of us here love putting on shows and we can’t wait to be back doing them, and more than ever before. It would have been so sad to close permanently, and a real loss to the town so this award is gratefully received.”

The CRF was announced by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Chorley Theatre, run by volunteers from Chorley Amateur Dramatic Operatic Society (CADOS), is one of 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support – with £76 million of investment announced at the weekend.

Chorley Theatre - known for decades as Chorley Little Theatre before its name change - opened in 1910 and this year is the longest period it’s been closed since CADOS bought the building in 1959. In 2019 they got their best attendance ever.

The pandemic meant productions were put on hold or cancelled, but there are still costs involved with looking after a century-old building, which is one of the oldest still-operating cinemas in the world. The theatre has just reopened with a selection of films, event cinema and comedy.

Mr Dowden said: “This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back.

“Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations.

“These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing

through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries.

“This latest set of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund builds on those announced recently and will help hundreds of organisations to survive the next few months, ensuring that the cultural sector can bounce back after the crisis.

“We will continue doing everything we can to support artists and cultural and creative organisations, with further funding to be announced in the coming weeks.”

Chorley Theatre - known for decades as Chorley Little Theatre before its name change - opened in 1910 and this year is the longest period it’s been closed since CADOS bought the building in 1959. They’ve run it ever since, with 2019 getting their best attendance ever.

The pandemic has meant productions have been put on hold or cancelled, but there are still costs involved with looking after a century-old building, which is one of the oldest still-operating cinemas in the world. The theatre has just reopened with a selection of films, event cinema and comedy - with social-distancing meaning a reduced audience capacity.

It’s hoped plays can restart in the coming months, along with opening up a new studio space that will give more opportunity for the community to get involved.