We are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant of £3million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Culture Recovery Fund, the £1.57billion fund allocated to support the cultural sector across the UK to survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
When forced to close our doors in March, we immediately lost 96% of our overall income. Despite having taken advantage of all available government’s schemes, raised more than £200,000 through a successful Fundraising Appeal and, with much regret, undertaken a major restructure to save costs, Norwich Theatre’s financial viability still hangs in the balance. As a date for when theatres will be able to re-open at full-scale remains unknown, this grant is a vital injection of support to help ensure our organisation can survive until the end of March 2021.
The Culture Recovery Fund was announced by the government in July and subsequently launched and opened for applications by Arts Council England, the distributing body for the funds, in August. We receive this grant as part of the first round of announcements of the results of applications for grants of more than £1million that the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced today.
We are one of 35 major cultural organisations receiving the first grants between £1million and £3 million through the Culture Recovery Fund – with £75 million of investment announced today. This follows £334 million awarded earlier in the month to nearly 2,000 organisations including many other venues and cultural organisations in Norwich, Norfolk and the East of England.
Our Chief Executive Stephen Crocker said: “Norwich Theatre is hugely grateful for this funding through the Culture Recovery Fund. I offer our thanks, and those of all the communities we serve, to the DCMS and Treasury for making these funds available and to Arts Council England for working hard to ensure that their distribution recognises the value of creative experiences of all forms and in all places.
With this grant comes extraordinary relief that our organisation has a lifeline until the end of March and an opportunity to recover, but it is accompanied by a profound feeling of responsibility as well. We will use these funds to reset ourselves in a way that supports the wider cultural ecology in our city, county and region. We will be more focussed than ever before on harnessing the power of shared creative experiences – the fundamental thing that I and many others across the sector have been fighting so hard to protect – as a way of supporting the recovery of our country’s mental health and wellbeing, and healing emotional wounds caused by COVID-19.”
About Norwich Theatre
- Our three venues (Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two) that make up Norwich Theatre make us the most visited arts organisation in Norfolk with c.450,000 visitors each year and a leading UK regional theatre.
- As the largest stage in the East of England, Theatre Royal serves the whole of Norfolk and its surrounding counties with its wide-ranging programme of large-scale and high quality national and international work.
- Our whole artistic programme spans all genres with rich diversity in form and content aiming to engage a varied age range and those from the most diverse range of backgrounds.
- Whilst we receive no direct public subsidy, in 2019 our venues collectively facilitated the generation of over £4million in Gross Box Office income for publically funded productions presented in our venues and collective reach of this work to 107,000 audience members with a collective total of 110 days on our stages.
- We have an extensive and award-winning programme of Learning & Participation work which annually reaches c.21,000 people of all ages with a strong track-record for using creative activity to achieve solid outcomes linked to social isolation, positive mental health and wellbeing and training and skills development.
- We work with local and national cultural partners, community groups and cross sector organisations to reach underserved groups. In 2019 we received national status as a Theatre of Sanctuary in recognition of our commitment to work with refugees and asylum-seekers.
- We are committed to reaching the widest range of audiences and, on average, 39% of all our tickets each year are sold to people living in areas of highest deprivation in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
- In 2019-20 we sold 21,390 £10-tickets across every single production at Theatre Royal. In the same period we also sold 9,000 school tickets and 24,000 tickets to people over 65 (an over-indexed group in our region where social isolation remains a prevalent issue). We also made 10,000 discounted tickets available through targeted work with people with disabilities (including 6,000 free personal assistant tickets).
- Our venues are among the biggest drivers of cultural tourism to Norfolk with annual local economic impact in excess of £40million and 17% of all our bookers each year travelling to us from beyond a 90min drive time.
- Our turnover at YE March 2019 was £16.3million at which point we employed 119 FTE staff (headcount 240), making us a significant employer in the city, and we provide volunteering opportunities for around 200 people every year.