‘The government has left us to rot’ - Theatre Royal boss on his heart-breaking week

PUBLISHED: 11:21 04 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:29 04 July 2020

Norwich Theatre chief executive Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Norwich Theatre

Norwich Theatre chief executive Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Norwich Theatre


Chief executive Stephen Crocker said he has lost a battle that could see Norwich’s Theatre Royal and Playhouse “torn apart to survive.”

Norwich's Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorwich's Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Crocker tweeted his feelings after the theatre announced 113 jobs could be axed, news which followed hard on the heels of postponing this year’s pantomime.

Mr Crocker wrote: “It’s been a heart-breaking week. I can’t believe what’s being allowed to happen to venues. The government has left theatre to rot. I’ve lost a battle to prevent @TheatreRNorwich and @norwichplay joining others in possibly being torn apart just to survive.”

But Mr Crocker, who has the support of local MPs who’ve been lobbying for financial support for theatres, said he had far from given up. “But the war ain’t over...”

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Job cuts were announced earlier this week. Mr Crocker said then: “Our staff are the lifeblood of our organisation...on their behalf I remain shocked and angry that the government is standing idle as an industry, that has delivered so much to this country and is so vital to its recovery, is being allowed to fade into dust. I will continue to fight hard for our staff, our theatres and our whole industry but this is an incredibly dark day for us,,,I am simply heart-broken.”

Mr Crocker told this newspaper: “I have been battling to avoid putting staff at risk but this week we had to. We urgently need a detailed plan.” He alluded to a tweet from renowned Norwich performer Karl Minns who posted his feelings saying that other venues such as bingo halls were allowed to open yet theatres can’t. Mr Minns said: “So, you can sit in a crowded room while someone with a microphone shouts out bingo numbers but not while someone tells jokes...meanwhile the theatre and comedy industry slips down the plughole.”

The Theatre Royal has a crowdfunding initiative organised by a local fundraiser, currently at £645 with a target of £10,000.

The theatre posted on social media a thank you for all the support, stating its box office was closed on Monday. “It’s been a very tough week, we’re going to take a slightly longer break over the weekend whilst our teams check in with each other and themselves to make sure they’re ok.”

To donate to the crowdfunding click here

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