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Theatres launch ‘imagine you’ve seen it’ campaigns in fights for survival

PUBLISHED: 19:28 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:28 20 March 2020

The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. Photo: Maddermarket Theatre

The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. Photo: Maddermarket Theatre

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Norwich theatres fighting for survival have launched a drive asking customers to imagine they’ve seen a show and donate their refund amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Paula Meir, Maddermarket Theatre Trust chairman. Photo: Maddermarket TheatrePaula Meir, Maddermarket Theatre Trust chairman. Photo: Maddermarket Theatre

The theatre industry has been hard hit by the spread of the disease, which earlier this week prompted prime minister Boris Johnson to advise members of the public to avoid shows, pubs and bars.

But they say the lack of an order forcing them to close means many are unable to access insurance to help them cover costs in the coming months, forcing them to stay open.

As many fight to stay afloat, the Theatre Royal, the Playhouse, Stage Two and the Maddermarket have launched appeals asking customers to donate the costs of their tickets in a bid to avoid redundancies.

Paula Meir, Maddermarket Theatre Trust chairman, said: “Local theatres across the country are facing a cash crisis.

Chief Executive of the Theatre Royal Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Theatre RoyalChief Executive of the Theatre Royal Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Theatre Royal

“What we are asking is that everyone who has bought a ticket for a cancelled show is to imagine they have seen the show and donate any refund to the theatre.

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“There has been a terrific response from the customers we have contacted so far and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their much-needed contributions.”

She said the theatre existed mainly on the revenue from its box office and bar and did not receive funding, making the “enforced closure potentially catastrophic”.

On Wednesday, Stephen Crocker, boss of the city’s Theatre Royal, hit out at the government for its lack of direction over social distancing measures, saying its next steps would depend largely on whether it could access its insurance.

Launching a campaign of his own, he said: “Our audiences and local community are the lifeblood of Norwich Theatre’s venues.”

“As a registered charity with no public subsidy, we rely on ticket sales for 80% of our income and the bars and restaurants in our buildings for a further 15pc”

The Maddermarket has named its campaign #IMAGINEYOUVESEENIT, while the three venues under the Norwich Theatres partnership have dubbed theirs #RefundRescue.

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