Well what a month April 2016 has been for the theatre.
On the 3rd of April we suffered a partial collapse of the ceiling above the stage rigging. Fortunately, no one was injured and the auditorium was cleared very quickly. The dance school that had hired the theatre for the day for a presentation were just putting the final polish to their show. They cleared the few children out of the building quickly. Thanks to all the people who cleared the area so quickly and to all those concerned.
We brought in a structural engineer, a health and safety representative and a company that specialises in Asbestos clearance. All the above were very sympathetic and professional and we took their advice and worked closely with them.
We had to close the Theatre and re-arrange all shows in the next six weeks or so and contact every ticket holder and refund anyone who could not visit on the new show date.
This was an enormous task and was brilliantly carried out thanks to all admin and office staff concerned.
We were creative and to help keep the theatre alive we made a mini theatre in the bar area with a seating capacity of 65 and held restoration fortnight which included shows, a coffee morning and artists giving their services free. We want to thank all the artists and the bar organisation with Ray, David and the famous volunteers.
Professional advisers made it clear that we had to take down the ceiling completely. It was a mammoth task undertaken by the theatre’s own staff plus some outside help.
The cost of the scaffolding (circa £10k), asbestos removal, skips, ticket refunds, new building materials, labour and loss of profits means that the theatre has to be extra careful in the foreseeable future and somehow claw back the £30k estimated cost of the repairs.
As chairman of this wonderful theatre it was an enormous task to keep calm and see the work through. Without Kris and his technical team, expert advice from Tony Warburton, safety advice and help from John and total commitment from all others involved including an army of cleaners, we would have been closed for a far longer period than 5 weeks.
It is a minor miracle that we are opening tonight with “Sister Act”.
By the way, on the bright side, this enormous problem brought us all closer together and has given us some future opportunities to make the auditorium even more majestic and further details will follow shortly.
Once again thanks to everyone that showed understanding to me personally, to the lovely people giving me envelopes with financial help and thanks to the team, for the encouragement received during this very dark time.
Now let’s move forward, happy days are here again!