Published date 21 July 2021

Lighting up a theatre and arts hub thanks to grant

Dan Norris with a man on stage

A Bristol theatre and arts hub says the Creative Scale Up funding it’s received during the pandemic has been a lifeline.

During a tour of the Wardrobe Theatre in Old Market, Bristol, Metro Mayor Dan Norris got to grips with the theatre’s lighting rig and heard how, thanks to the cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority, the theatre has received business management support and funding to move performances online.

After having to close its doors to audiences for fourteen months the curtain finally lifted again at the studio theatre and arts hub last month.

Metro Mayor, Dan Norris said: “Before the pandemic creative industries were one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy, but they’ve been hit particularly hard by the impacts of Covid-19. I’m delighted we’ve be able to support the Wardrobe Theatre and help it adapt and survive.

“Our creative industries still need more help and that’s why I’ve committed a further £1m to support small businesses through recovery – particularly those working in the cultural and creative sector.”

The fringe studio venue and arts hub, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, showcases the best theatre-makers, companies and artists from around the country.  Pre-covid it welcomed audiences of more than 35,000 and staged more than 500 performances each year.

Artistic Director Matthew Whittle said: “It’s been a challenging year, but the business mentoring support we’ve received together with funding to record and distribute a production online kept us going. It’s been a huge relief to finally welcome back smaller audiences to the theatre. It’s vital we give artists and promoters, who’ve been equally hit hard by the pandemic, the opportunity to put on shows.”

The two-year pilot Creative Scale Up programme is designed to support businesses in the creative sector that demonstrate a genuine ambition to grow, innovate and strengthen the local economy. Successful applicants receive individually tailored support.

Applications for funding are open until July 31.

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