Storyhouse now in fight for survival

Storyhouse has today announced that this year’s planned season of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, which costs £ ¾m to stage and accounts for one-fifth of the charity’s entire annual ticket income, has been postponed until next summer.

The three shows, which are produced by Storyhouse – Pride & Prejudice, Taming of the Shrewand The Jungle Book will be moved to the same dates in 2021.

The charity has said that they have run out of time whilst waiting for news on which open-air events and theatre will be allowed.  The postponement leaves the future of Storyhouse in doubt as it struggles with a lack of guidance on when, and how it is going to be able to stage any shows.

Chief Executive Andrew Bentley says that “the absence of information has now become critical for open-air and other theatre producers. We had plans A, B, C and D to safely open for at least part of the summer.  No business, however, can plan an opening in this vacuum. No business can survive when starved of any vision of the future”

“This now leaves Storyhouse, and Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre in a precarious position and is a huge financial blow to us. Over two-thirds of the country’s theatres currently expect to be out of business by Christmas and we will join them at some point unless something changes soon. We are in a straightforward fight for survival”

“We are urging the government to give guidance now about opening theatres, we are running out of time  No-one expects business as usual but not all buildings are the same and theatres should be allowed to open at the same time as cinemas, cinemas are of course also theatres.  As producers, however, we can’t rehearse or mount any show until we get some information on how to do that safely and right now there is none. If that doesn’t change soon it will be too late to put on a Christmas show and the number of theatres going under will rapidly increase”

Storyhouse is asking Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre ticket holders, who are some of the company’s most loyal customers, to consider turning their tickets for this year into a donation if they are able

Storyhouse is one of the country’s busiest cultural centres with over 1m customer visits every year. It is asking friends and supporters to help by joining a new membership scheme as well as donating to keep the organisation alive.

Andrew Bentley continues: “We’ve launched the Storyhouse Card ten days ago and are close to 1,000 members already.  It’s the country’s only monthly streaming, no commitment theatre membership scheme and at only £4 a month is brilliant value as well as a great way to help us survive.  If all our customers simply become members, we would be secure, strong and independent forever. Let’s make that happen”.

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