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Our theatre needs £100,000 - here are the sums that show it

PUBLISHED: 05:30 14 August 2020

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Inset: Emma Butler-Smith. Picture: Mick Howes/Marina Theatre

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Inset: Emma Butler-Smith. Picture: Mick Howes/Marina Theatre

Mick Howes/Marina Theatre

The Marina Theatre is asking the public to help raise £100,000 to secure its future. Chief executive Emma Butler-Smith reveals why.

Emma Butler-Smith, chief executive of the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: Marina TheatreEmma Butler-Smith, chief executive of the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: Marina Theatre

Two weeks ago the Marina started a public Survival Appeal. This time last year, who would ever have thought we’d be in this situation?

Every day brings announcements from other theatres of more closures, redundancies, cancellations. We know the Marina isn’t alone but that doesn’t make it any easier.

We really are fighting for our survival – that’s why we launched our Survival Appeal on July 30, aiming for at least £100,000 to help secure our future.

The Marina has been at the heart of Lowestoft for over 100 years and we don’t want that to end in 2020.

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft illuminated in red. Picture: Mick HowesThe Marina Theatre in Lowestoft illuminated in red. Picture: Mick Howes

So far over 400 amazing customers and friends have already donated more than £13,000 to the appeal. It’s been fantastic (and quite addictive!) to watch the counter go up, and more than a few tears have been shed when we read the accompanying messages! We’ve had donations from near and far, big and small. Every penny counts.

Securing the Marina’s future is vital for our town’s future and we are busy talking to all local councils asking for support.

There’s an increasingly vibrant and diverse cultural scene which is key to Lowestoft’s green shoots of regeneration and the Marina and its staff are right at the heart of that.

We bring such a huge variety of entertainment into the town, from well-known comedians to classic drama, and from rock’n’roll to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a cliché – but you’ll miss us if we go!

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft has launched a survival appeal. Picture: Marina TheatreThe Marina Theatre in Lowestoft has launched a survival appeal. Picture: Marina Theatre

It’s been an incredibly difficult year so far and we’ve had to look hard at what we might be able to do in a future that is far from clear to anyone.

Without audiences, we are without income; but we still have substantial costs. My Maths O-level in the mid-80s really has been exercised this year!

We have often felt hampered before by our large auditorium, but that problem now seems laughable. Current 2-metre social distancing takes our 775-seater auditorium down to 65- 98 seats, depending on how many people book in a group.

One metre social-distancing takes capacity back up to a whopping… 196 maximum! As you can imagine, that makes our sums ‘interesting…’.

The launch of one of Lowestoft Marina Theatre's popular pantomimes, 'Peter Pan' staring Sid Owen. The theatre is facing the challenges of Covid-19 and is hoping to raise £100,000. Picture: Nick ButcherThe launch of one of Lowestoft Marina Theatre's popular pantomimes, 'Peter Pan' staring Sid Owen. The theatre is facing the challenges of Covid-19 and is hoping to raise £100,000. Picture: Nick Butcher

Even pre-Covid our income was tight, so when thinking about what to write here, I thought I’d share an example of the issues we would face if we were open now. This is for the kind of show that we (used to!) have all the time:

Marina Music Night

Tickets: £25

Pre-COVID with 775 seat capacity:

300 tickets sold at £25 each = £7,500 income

Deal: 80% to performers / 20% to Marina

(Booking fees & theatre restoration levy to Marina)

You may also want to watch:

Pre-Covid19 Marina show income = £1,995

Marina show day running costs: £1,528

Staff, overheads, leases, bills etc

Post-Covid-19

2m – max 98 capacity

Reduced by 30% to 69 for small booking groups = £1,725 total income

20% + booking fees & TR levy to Marina

2m Covid19 Marina show income = £458

1m – max 196 capacity

Again, reduced by 30% to 137 for small booking groups = £3,425 total income

20% + booking fees & TR levy to Marina

1m Covid19 Marina show income = £911

So, in comparison:

Full 775 capacity = £467 profit

2m/98 capacity = -£1,070 loss

1m/196 capacity = -£617 loss

Obviously, this is a rough and ready example, but I hope it shows the issues theatres and venues face in this Brave New World.

Everyone that works – and volunteers – at the Marina really loves the place and it’s heart-breaking to see people lose the jobs they love.

I came just for a couple of weeks and fell in love with the theatre, its staff, and the town. The Marina’s a really special place.

We want to open, we really do, but we can’t run a live programme with social distancing. That’s why we need your help to survive, so we can get through this to open again properly on the other side of the crisis.

You can donate to the Marina’s Survival Appeal by going to www.marinatheatre.co.uk or phoning the box office on 01502 533 200.


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