Altrincham Garrick has called on the community to help support it through the current crisis after the second national lockdown forced it to cancel a series of vital events.
The venue had managed to stay open since August by introducing stringent safety procedures and changing its programme from mainly live theatre performances to showings of classic films.
It had planned a week-long Alty Fringe, comprising live theatre, dance, comedy and live music, which had been due to take place later this month.
However, the latest lockdown has forced the Garrick to move the Fringe to February, as well as postponing its lucrative pantomime until Easter, calling off its Christmas Market and abandoning its first ever Christmas Tree Festival.
The venue has recently restructured and brought in a new management team, with Joseph Meighan taking over as Artistic Director and Sarah Reilly becoming Operations Director.
And Meighan said: “It’s been devastating having to cancel things. We’d created the Christmas Tree Festival to spread some much-needed joy in the town. By asking local businesses to sponsor a tree, we were providing them with a unique way to promote themselves to the thousands of local people who pass our venue each day, while helping raise much-needed funds.
“Sadly, despite having all our marketing activity in place, the Festival is no longer viable. It’s a bitter blow – it costs us £30,000 a month just to function and the funds raised would have helped ensure we continue to operate in these most challenging of times. That said, our lights didn’t go out during the Second World War and we’re determined lockdown won’t beat us either!”
Meighan thanked all those who have supported the Garrick in recent months – and said there were various ways people could help protect the future of the venue.
“Our online box office is always open and I urge people to book tickets for the wonderful films we will be showing over the festive period and would like to reassure everyone that we follow the most stringent of safety guidelines,” he said.
“Direct donations, which can be made via our website, would be incredible and we would also encourage people to purchase gift vouchers for future performances or become a member for as little as £15 per annum.
“Many people who had purchased tickets for cancelled events have declined a refund and asked for the ticket price to be donated to us instead. Such acts of unprompted kindness have meant so much.
“There are practical ways people can help us, too. By following, liking and sharing our social media posts or by volunteering as a front of house usher during our film festival over the Christmas period.
“This would be a great opportunity for students looking to acquire some work experience, with the added benefit of getting to see some great films!”.
Anyone keen to help the Garrick in any way should contact Joe Meighan or Sarah Reilly on firstname.lastname@example.org