On Thursday 30 July, David Hutchinson, CEO for Selladoor Worldwide, who operate both the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and The Landmark in Ilfracombe, met with Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, to launch the bid for governmental support for North Devon Theatres.
There are no alternative mid to large scale theatres for a huge portion of North Devon residents and both David and Selaine have agree that this bid is necessary to ensure that the theatres can continue to serve this wide geographical region.
Covid-19 closed the doors of both the Queen’s Theatre and The Landmark in March, and they will stay closed until at least November. Whilst Selladoor Worldwide have reopened the Quarterdeck Café at the Landmark in Ilfracombe, seven days a week, the income on food and beverage cannot sustain the buildings. The venues require their share of the government £1.57B Arts Recovery Fund to secure the long-term future of both buildings.
Selladoor Worldwide have outlined the importance of both buildings being able to open without social distancing in order to be able to run a sustainable programme. Currently, theatres across the UK cannot open for live performance until mid-August at the earliest, and must adhere to social distancing.
In a bid to launch the process of obtaining this essential funding, Selaine Saxby MP spoke directly to the Culture Secretary to raise the importance of North Devon Theatres in her constituency and their position as place-makers in the community.
Both Selaine and David spoke in depth about some of the innovative ways the company are trying to get some level of activity back into the theatre, including a summer outdoor festival at The Landmark at the end of August. This festival would host a season of outdoor performances from 27-31 August in the front lawn of the theatre. However, David was clear that festivals such as this is not the financial answer to sustain the venues future. The festival has a core focus on bringing audiences back to live theatre in some form, and would offer some of the artists and freelancers who haven’t had any work since March an opportunity to work and develop some income.
Both Selaine Saxby MP and David Hutchinson have spoken about their full commitment to continue to work closely together to advocate for the arts in North Devon and their wider impact socially, economically and culturally.