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News: From the chairman

Updated: 26 March 2014

Sue Wilkinson
Sue Wilkinson
Loft Theatre Company

Spring is upon us, bringing with it the season of change and hope, which is perfect for what’s currently happening in our lovely theatre. I will explain more below, but first an observation.

I recently visited the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Whilst there, I picked up their season brochure. When I was a teenager the Belgrade was a repertory theatre. It employed actors, many of whom lived for seasons at a time, in the flats at the back of the building. They appeared in various productions throughout the season. Repertory theatre was the training ground of actors. People might go to drama school, but afterwards they got into rep and learned on the job. Most of our great stage actors will have started out in rep, as did the crew and tech teams, and rep theatre produced a wonderful body of entertainment for the local audience, year after year.

In this year’s brochure, the Belgrade Theatre is only listing two shows under its own name, and even those are in conjunction with other theatre companies. Just two shows: in their studio theatre too, not on the main stage. Sadly it has simply become a receiving house for touring productions, a model replicated throughout the UK due to lack of arts funding. I feel that this is a tragedy; without the arts, life would become very humdrum.

Sometimes when we are close to something, we forget to actually look at it, and that’s what had happened to me. I had forgotten that the Loft theatre is, and always has been, a repertory theatre. We produce a varied, challenging and high quality season of work every year. Our actors learn and grow with us. Please stop and think for a moment about the Loft Theatre Company: the people you see there, in all capacities. Isn’t it amazing that we can do the work we do, and entirely unfunded from outside organisations? We achieve this because our members are determined to keep live theatre alive by giving their time, skill and love to achieve it. Our members are true stars.

Personally I am immensely proud of what this theatre achieves and I hope that I can help it to embrace new ways of working and thinking to ensure this achievement goes from strength to strength. We are lucky to have some capital behind us, but our company can’t run on capital; we must run on income – income is our lifeblood. With this in mind we are adding a voluntary donation button to the website booking page. This donation is, of course, completely optional. It will allow our patrons to add a £1 donation to each ticket they buy if they wish to further help support our ongoing work. Every ticket sold is wonderful, but every pound donated will be extra special; it will tell us that you really appreciate what we do here and allow us to do more of it.

There is change afoot in other areas too. We are changing the way we manage the theatre. A new post of General Manager is being created to work alongside the Artistic Director and Treasurer to handle the business of producing theatre. The board of directors, led by the chairman, will become a strategic group planning for the future. The focus of the organization is now the Artistic Director. This is a big change to the way we think and is both challenging and energising. As a result we would like to invite all our members (and any interested patrons) to come along to a Members’ Evening on Thursday 1 May at 7.30pm where we will explain what changes we are making, how it will work and talk about the ways we can all get involved to make sure the change leads to growth and the enhancement of our company. Further details will be put onto the website shortly but, rest assured, the bar will be open.

And now to Steel Magnolias. I would like to wish Gus MacDonald and his cast extra special luck with this production because they are a wonderful group of people close to my heart after last year’s Calendar Girls productions. Have fun girls, I’m right there with you.

Sue Wilkinson
Chair, Loft Theatre Company

Coming soon
Under Milk Wood 7
Betrayal 10
Privates on Parade 9
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Updated: 26 March 2014