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Lyme Regis theatre now a 'real success story'
Lyme Regis Town Council gives the theatre a £32,000 yearly grant for a three-year period, which runs out next year.
Co-directors Tim Bell and Harry Long went to the council’s policy and strategy meeting last week to give an update on how the theatre’s business plan is shaping up and to reassure councillors the money is being spent well.
Mr Long said: “In the current funding climate everyone is feeling the pressure to achieve more with less.
“We recognise the great generosity of the council in breathing life into the theatre as its core funder.”
Mr Bell said the theatre had been doing well but it was a matter of urgency to fix the roof.
He said: “Compared with the same period last year, we have achieved a 46 per cent increase in ticket revenue, 48 per cent more attendees and a higher average audience.
“Our average ticket price has remained under £10 and these figures do not include our summer season, which achieved its highest audience averages yet.
“The TIC has reported holidaymakers booking to coincide with our summer performances.”
He added: “We are really proud of the work we have done.
“The roof does need a serious amount of work but the theatre is a success story.
“I think we are getting the message out there that there are a lot of things to see and be part of.
“We are working towards that every time you come to the theatre, whether it is to see a show, pop into the bar or even use the loo we have exemplary standards.”
Both directors are hopeful, even with the financial situation, they will be able to find money to repair the badly leaking roof and install solar panels and are working to a three-year timescale.
Mr Bell said: “There is a leak in both the pitch and flat roof and in very bad weather water leaks into the auditorium. So it is very, very urgent, the need to raise that money. We are fairly optimistic about getting grants.
“Obviously it is a very difficult funding climate and I would not be surprised if there were many stages of rejection along the way to getting that money.
“And obviously our message is: ‘It is well worth saving.’
“It has great heritage – Jimmy Cagney performed for the troops there in the 40s and at a time when so many seaside theatres are closing we are open all year round which I think is an achievement.”
The next biggest priority is disabled access, they added.
Mr Long also said they were hoping to be able to afford to pay for an administrative assistant.
At the moment the theatre relies heavily on volunteer help, giving more than 6,000 hours of assistance each year.
He said: “Our long-term vision is a financially self-sufficient organisation with a national reputation, in a welcoming, open building that everyone in Lyme feels at home in.”
Councillors said they were pleased and reassured to hear about the progress.