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1st Jul, 2022

Bid launched to save Stratford ArtsHouse

A BID has been launched to save Stratford ArtsHouse.

News of the theatre’s impending closure prompted Bear Pit Theatre member Dominic Skinner to create a Save Stratford ArtsHouse page on Facebook.

The page gained some 600 ‘likes’ in less than 24-hours after the news broke Stratford Town Trust, which owns the building, had taken the decision to pull funding, saying it was no longer sustainable as it did not attract big enough audiences.

And he is planning a meeting on Sunday for supporters to get together and discuss plans.

Dominic – who is an architect from Clopton – said: “I am overwhelmed by the support this has had, people want it to be a success. The page has taken a serious turn in bringing groups together and have their concerns and questions answered.

“A place like this just doesn’t go to the wall over night. Alarm bells must have been ringing a while ago.

“It’s an extremely important community resource and to let it close without a robust and sustainable plan to benefit the community and generations to come.

“Stratford is built on connections to theatre and not to have access to such a large community space is a tragedy that would make even Shakespeare blush.

And it’s not just a performance space, it’s also an event space. It holds the literary festival – one of the biggest cultural events in Warwickshire.

“I spoke to a lady who has had to cancel her wedding reception there. The ripples have spread far and wide not to mention the workers who really care about what they do, losing their livelihood.”

Dominic added he had not managed to get hold of the trust but hoped the group would be able to approach them with ideas following the discussion.

The Rother Street theatre is run as a charitable trust and has been receiving grants from Stratford Town Trust since it reopened following a £1.8million refurbishment in April 2014.

But the trust has not renewed the four-year funding contract.

Trust chief executive Justin Williams said: “It was a difficult decision but we need to deliver funds where they are needed and where they will have the best impact.

“There’s just not enough people going to the theatre. While it’s a charity, it’s also a business, and we’re here to fund the community.”

He revealed the trust had been pumping additional funds into the theatre on top of the agreed amount – on which it had become too dependent.

The venue, which employs 11 staff, hosts various events throughout the year, including theatre productions, live music, and exhibitions. It is also home to the acclaimed Orchestra of The Swan, and hosts the annual Stratford Literary Festival.

The Observer understands the venue is set to close in May following three shows by comedian Jasper Carrott who has retweeted the recent news.

The meeting is set to be held on Sunday (February 25) at 7.30pm at No.1 Shakespeare Street.

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