The award winning Barn Theatre in Cirencester has temporarily closed and could shut permanently due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ian Carling, the founder and benefactor of the theatre made a passionate speech at the recent Rory Bremner comedy evening asking the audience to support the theatre, one day before prime minister Boris Johnson said in his now daily Covid-19 press conferences and updates: “You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”
“My wife (Chrissie) and I have backed this project because we could see what it and could do for this town and local area,” Ian Carling said.
“Theatre and the opportunities it gives young people mean’s so much to us and we would hate to see this lost due to the current pandemic.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the awards we have won, the plaudits for our productions, but most of all the team, we could lose all of this, it would be so sad.
“With great sadness that we have taken the difficult decision today to temporarily close the theatre because of what the Prime Minister has suggested, earlier.”
The acclaimed Built by Barn production of Ben Hur was expected to play out to its final audiences this Saturday but has now been postponed with immediate effect.
For those who have purchased tickets all customers will be contacted in due course by the box office staff to discuss options.
Artistic director Iwan Lewis echoed Ian Carling’s sentiment. “Ticket income is the lifeblood of any theatre and the Barn Theatre Charity operates without funding from local authority or Arts Council support, so this loss of revenue is a hammer blow to us.
“It is estimated that we will lose upwards of £250,000 over the coming months which could ultimately close the theatre on a permanent basis.
“Our future is now dependent on our supporters and as such we are launching a donations campaign via our website and social media platforms, working together to SAVE OUR BARN.
“We have been amazingly successful during this period, winning the UK’s Best Fringe Theatre of the Year Award 2019, gaining national recognition by producing 12 wonderful shows to upwards of 80,000 audience members; but our contribution to our community stretches further than just the theatre with large scale outreach programmes, school workshops and collaborative projects around the centenary of the First World War, the record breaking Cirencester Human Poppy, and The Cirencester Advent Festival that have enhanced the well-being of our community and draw thousands of visitors to the town,” he added.
Today marks the second anniversary since the Barn Theatre in Cirencester opened its doors to the general public.
At a time when the theatre should be celebrating their achievements, they find themselves in a position where they are fighting for their survival.