Storyhouse has announced it will re-open as soon as the government allows – maybe as early as July 4.
The Chester arts charity has said it is in a “straightforward fight for survival” after postponing its open-air theatre season, which usually accounts for a fifth of its annual ticket income and costs £750,000 to stage.
Though theatres have so far had little guidance on how or when they might reopen, Storyhouse bosses plan to welcome the public back as soon as any part of the building is able to do so safely. The government currently expects cinemas to open on July 4.
Storyhouse has seen membership increase by two thousand over the last week as its customers rush to shore up the organisation. It recently launched the country’s first no-commitment theatre membership programme at £4 a month, as a way of galvanising support.
It is also preparing to launch a drive-in cinema season from early July alongside its popular open-air cinema, and plans to turn the main theatre into a cinema until Christmas.
Artistic Director Alex Clifton said “If we can’t gather people together around a stage, we’ll bring them together around a screen. We will open in any way we can to safely serve our community.”
The theatre has managed to keep two thirds of its community programme running during lockdown – over 350 online participation sessions, language classes, karaoke, home schooling, reading clubs and storytelling.
CEO Andrew Bentley said “Like every other theatre in the country, we are fighting to survive. There are plenty of headlines about theatres going into hibernation, but we are a diverse business so that’s not for us. We will be open and support our community from day one, just as they are showing such support for us.”