Theatre may have to make 71pc of its roles redundant

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: VistaViews/Marina Theatre

The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: VistaViews/Marina Theatre - Credit: Archant

A theatre trust has started a consultation with staff that could see “up to 71 per cent” of contracted roles being made redundant with others made part-time.

A week after the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft made the “very difficult decision” to cancel its Autumn programme – meaning all events taking place up to Monday, November 30 would be cancelled or postponed – the venue has begun a period of redundancy consultation with staff as a ‘Restructure Consultation’ is under way.

Highlighting the “immense” impact of Covid-19 on the Marina Theatre, and a “catastrophic drop in income” management at the theatre have been left with “no choice but to reduce our overheads and scale back our operation.”

A spokesman for the venue said: “The Marina is heavily reliant on earned income from tickets and sales of food and drink.

“Over the last few years we have worked incredibly hard to pick ourselves up and become the theatre that Lowestoft wants and loves.

“Our dependence on public money accounts for less than 10pc of our £1.6m annual turnover, something of which we have been very proud.

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“Since March we have not been allowed to open and trade. Even if we were allowed to open, with social distancing in place and public worry a very real consideration, it just isn’t financially viable within our current operating structure.

“We have been incredibly grateful to the Arts Council for its Emergency Funding award and have made full use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. “However, this just isn’t enough.

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“We have had to make the incredibly hard decision to begin a period of redundancy consultation with our staff.

“This may result in making up to 71pc of contracted roles redundant and making others part-time.”

Admitting it was a “devastating time for everyone involved,” the venue has spent weeks “exploring all possible options”, but added this “is the only hope the Marina Theatre has of protecting its future.”

Emma Butler Smith, chief executive, said: “This is an awful decision to have to make, but we are faced with no other choice.

“Our staff are wonderful people: loyal, committed and hard-working and they don’t deserve this – no one in the industry does.

“Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe how we feel and we are devastated to find ourselves at this point.

“In February we were in the best place we have ever been financially, with exciting plans and a solid business plan.

“Even after all these weeks, it is hard to realise that our bright future has been taken from us.”

David Blyth, chairman of the board of trustees, added: “In these unprecedented times for the Arts in England, our aim is to ensure we save the Marina Theatre for our future audiences and it is with this in mind that we have had to look at these drastic changes.

“The Marina Theatre, under the leadership of the Trust, has gone from strength to strength.

“We have one of the best management teams across all skills, a diverse programme for all our audiences, wide community engagement and a beautiful building.

“The Marina is at the heart of Lowestoft and you can be assured we are doing everything we can to secure the building for the future”

With the Marina Theatre Trust remaining committed to playing a key role in the cultural life of Lowestoft, the spokesman added: “As soon as we can reopen safely and economically, we will welcome back our community.”

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped us so far, from our landlord Lowestoft Town Council which has waived rents and brought forward management payments, to our wonderful audiences who have made donations and kept credit on their accounts.

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.”

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