Third round of recovery funding for Bath and Poole

THERE was good news for  two of the region’s major arts venues, with grants together totalling more than £800,000 to Poole’s Lighthouse Arts Centre and Bath Theatre Royal.

It was a double boost for Bath, with £423,499  from the latest round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund and £389,868 from the CRF’s Sustainability Funding Scheme.

The sustainability award, for work up to March 2023, is being targeted to identify and support new business operations to ensure a sustainable future for CRF-funded organisations. The fund also supports organisations to improve diversity and inclusion, progress toward ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and increase education and outreach.

Since the Theatre Royal Bath re-opened in May 2021 after the third national lockdown, it has presented a full and continuous programme of shows in the main house and a host of productions at the Ustinov Studio and The Egg.

As well as providing a creative learning programme in-person and online, the theatre has resumed touring productions across the UK and transferring shows to the West End. In recent months, Theatre Royal Bath Productions has staged West End transfers of Oleanna and Blithe Spirit and is currently co-producing Four Quartets, all of which first opened in Bath.

Meanwhile the Theatre Royal’s production company continues to tour shows this autumn, including co-productions of Private Lives, Blue/Orange and Josephine which are playing at theatres nationwide now.

Danny Moar, director of Theatre Royal Bath, says: “Theatre Royal Bath is delighted to receive further Arts Council Support as we continue our growth and recovery following a time of unparalleled difficulty for arts organisations during the pandemic. Since theatres were allowed to reopen in May, we have been thrilled to welcome audiences to over 300 performances across all three of our auditoria here at the Theatre Royal.

“With a busy Christmas season ahead and a full spring season announced, we continue to work on a host of exciting plans for 2022, including at least five theatre productions already confirmed which will tour to theatres across the UK after opening in Bath.”

Elspeth McBain, chief executive of Poole Lighthouse, welcomed the award of £487,423. She said it was a “huge relief” and would support the rebuilding of reserves to the end of the financial year as the arts centre continues its recovery and reopening through the current period of uncertainty.

“This is the best news we could have hoped for as we build our way back,” she said. “Although we have been delighted to welcome back the audiences and artists we have missed for so long, there remains uncertainty and caution for both artists and audiences and this award will bolster our long-term financial security so that we can continue to present the world class performance and cultural experiences that our community demands and deserves.”

With live performance paused during lockdown, the three rounds of CRF grants enabled the arts centre to continue its work online and with artists behind closed doors. It also supported its resident orchestra BSO to continue to work by turning the Concert Hall into a rehearsal and live streaming studio enabling their work to be reached by thousands of people online.

A key lockdown project was a partnership with new writing theatre company Paines Plough to deliver readings by Zoom of playwright Chloe Moss’ specially adapted work Quicksand to residents of two nursing homes in Poole as part of the Come To Where I Am caller service.

Other regional recipients of a Culture Recovery Fund award from this latest round include Wiltshire Creative, which will receive £140,522. A statement from the organisation, which comprises Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury Arts Centre and Salisbury International Arts Festival, says Wiltshire Creative will use the funding “to continue to support and develop a thriving cultural scene in the South West, including growing the internal staff team by increasing departmental support, investing in local creatives and freelancers, and enhancing the programme of events on offer across Wiltshire Creative’s venues.”