Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake has been awarded £878,492 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
Administered by Arts Council England, the fund has been set up by the Government to provide financial support to safeguard cultural organisations affected by COVID-19 by ensuring they remain financially resilient for the period through to 31st March, 2021.
Theatre by the Lake, which trades as Cumbria Theatre Trust, is one of 13 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums or venues facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic to have received a share of the money.
Other recipients included The Wordsworth Trust, which has been allocated £242,355 and Lakes Story Ltd, which is set to receive £250,000.
James Cobbold, executive director of Theatre by the Lake and Liz Stevenson, its artistic director, said: “We’re very grateful to have received this extraordinary investment from the Government through the Culture Recovery Fund in support of the future of the Theatre.
“This award will help to protect our role in helping the communities of Cumbria to rebuild after COVID-19, and our contribution to the tourist economy and cultural ecology of the county as the only year-round producing theatre.”
Theatre by the Lake said it will use the funding to make alterations to its facilities to ensure they are safe for audiences, increase its capacity and expertise to develop a new business model and plan, and to undertake a programme of events next year intended to test new facilities, develop audience confidence, engage new audiences and employ more freelance artists.
The funding will also contribute to the considerable costs of reopening on a sustainable basis when it is possible to do so.
James and Liz added: “We are operating in uncertain times which are likely to continue into 2021, therefore we need to plan flexibly and with caution. We will re-open when it is possible and safe to do so, and we will open on an incremental basis — it will take time before we are able to operate on the scale we have done in recent years.
“This investment will improve our financial resilience and allows us to plan and test a reimagined programme and operation.
“However, we continue to operate in a challenging environment, and opening with social distancing measures in place is not a sustainable solution for many theatres.
“Therefore the continued fundraising support from our audiences, donors and supporters will be crucial in ensuring that Theatre by the Lake can recover from the impact of the pandemic and remain resilient after reopening.
“We will now concentrate on planning for our reopening in 2021 and look forward to sharing details of our plans and how people can support and engage with our new programme in due course.”
In August, Theatre by the Lake announced that 38 workers were being made redundant.
It followed a two-month consultation scheme.
The arts organisation said that changes to the Government’s furlough scheme, alongside social distancing restrictions meant ‘decisive action’ was needed to reduce expenditure.