Wyllyotts Theatre’s £300k boost from Culture Recovery Fund

PUBLISHED: 14:52 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 17:25 09 November 2020

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP on a virtual meeting with Barry Ellis, regional manager, and Ginny Williams, theatre manager of the Wyllyotts Theatre. Picture: supplied by Oliver Dowden's office.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP on a virtual meeting with Barry Ellis, regional manager, and Ginny Williams, theatre manager of the Wyllyotts Theatre. Picture: supplied by Oliver Dowden's office.

Parliamentary Office of Oliver Dowden

Potters Bar’s Wyllyotts Theatre has received a lifeline grant of over £300,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The stage and auditorium at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe stage and auditorium at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

The entertainment complex in Wyllyotts Place, off Darkes Lane, has been awarded £306,457 from the fund administered by Arts Council England, to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Theatre manager Ginny Williams said: “Wyllyotts is much more than a theatre.

“It is a cultural and social hub for Potters Bar; something the Arts Council obviously recognised when they awarded the venue £306k in the first round of the Cultural Recovery Fund.

“Pre-COVID, the venue was a hive of activity with choirs, chatter tables, matinee movies, chair-based exercises classes and all manner of classes and clubs using the venue as a base.

The stage and auditorium at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe stage and auditorium at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

“Five amateur theatre groups called the venue home and throughout the year there was a stream of live comedy, music, drama, cinema, event screenings and the annual Jordan Productions pantomime.”

The venue did reopen during September and October and some limited activities were able to return.

The latest lockdown, however, has put a halt to cinema and live shows.

Ginny added: “Unfortunately, like all arts venues, Wyllyotts has always needed a small subsidy to survive and when COVID hit it hit not just Wyllyotts but the wider company – the charitable trust InspireAll who would normally have provided the subsidy for Wyllyotts.

The stage at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe stage at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

“The grant has therefore been a lifeline and guarantees that Wyllyotts will be able to reopen and trade in the spring, if not before.

“After the new November lockdown, the management are reassessing the options but would very much like to offer the public something special to do safely at Christmas.

“In the meantime the grant helps to keep the building in good repair, helps to keep the core staff in post, and the closure means that improvements are being made so that the venue will be COVID-safe and ready for a grand reopening very soon.”

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, regularly visits the venue for constituency surgeries.

The foyer entrance at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe foyer entrance at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

He held a virtual meeting with the community theatre owned by Hertsmere Borough Council on Friday.

Mr Dowden said: “I was thrilled to meet with the Wyllyotts Theatre, who have just received over £300,000 as part of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

“They are at the heart of Potters Bar community and cultural life, hosting countless performances, dramatic societies and activities – particularly for young people and the over 60s.

“I have used its facilities many times myself, and this funding will secure them for future generations.”

The cafe at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe cafe at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

The funding, delivered by Arts Council England, on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is part of the government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help facilities affected by the coronavirus restrictions.

The Wyllyotts Theatre’s website states: “Everyone has been affected by the pandemic and the arts industry is facing its greatest challenge yet.

“With the help from Arts Council England and the DCMS, this grant will help us secure a future for Wyllyotts Theatre.

“This grant is a lifeline to help us bring back a range of cultural events in a COVID-secure way.

The cafe at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe cafe at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

“Thanks to the government’s #CultureRecoverFund we can continue to be #HereForCulture and we cannot wait to provide you with further information about our events as soon as possible.”

The Wyllyotts Theatre box office. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe Wyllyotts Theatre box office. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

The Wyllyotts Theatre auditorium in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe Wyllyotts Theatre auditorium in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

The balcony seats in the Wyllyotts Theatre auditorium. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe balcony seats in the Wyllyotts Theatre auditorium. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

The Wyllyotts Theatre auditorium in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts TheatreThe Wyllyotts Theatre auditorium in Potters Bar. Picture: supplied by Wyllyotts Theatre

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