No one really needs reminding that their local theatre is struggling right now, with some venues managing to open in fits and starts over Summer, and many remaining completely closed since March. But if you’ve been sat clutching your tickets, praying that your favourite theatre will stay open long enough for you to see your dream show, there are a few things you can do to help make that happen.
Join a class or club
Lots of theatres offered acting, writing, singing, dance or reading clubs for young people and adults before the pandemic. Quick-thinking theatres like Coventry’s Belgrade, Plymouth’s Barbican, and Theatr Clyd in Wales have transferred their classes online, giving you the chance to access creative sessions via Zoom from all over the country.
Sign up and subscribe
Make sure you’re the first to know when your local theatre starts releasing tickets by subscribing to their mailing lists and following them on social media. You could also follow organisations like The Stage and The Culture Diary to keep track of general industry news.
Buy some scripts
While writers might not be staging new works, purchasing the scripts of their previous plays helps keep their careers secure. You could buy your scripts from uk.bookshop.org, which donates a percentage of profits to indie stores, so you’re helping local bookshops to survive while you’re at it!
Skip the refund
If you’d booked tickets for shows that have been cancelled, the theatre will probably be in touch with several options: you could either get a refund, donate the money, or get a credit note ready to be redeemed when theatres reopen. Donating is the most helpful for theatres, but if you’re not able to donate, opt for a credit note so that the money stays on the theatre’s books (and you can treat yourself to new tickets later down the line).
As well as all of the stress and uncertainty, your local theatre is likely to be facing hundreds of emails from customers asking for their money back. Refunding is a long-winded, tricky process, so if you are thinking of emailing or phoning in search of your money, or to check whether a show will be happening, being polite and patient can go a long way.
Support a charity that looks out for artists
If you’d like to help artists and theatre workers pull through the pandemic, Theatresupport.info is a handy guide to the main places to donate. They include Theatres Trust, The Theatre Artists Fund and The Royal Theatrical Fund, all of which provide emergency funding to those in the arts. You could also donate to this JustGiving campaign, which was set up to support out-of-work freelance actors, creatives and ushers.
Become a member
Many theatres are charitable organisations, and even if they do have Arts Council funding it might not be enough to fully support all of their staff and operations. Becoming a venue member by making small, regular donations will help them to survive, and you’ll have a host of members’ benefits to look forward to when shows are back on!
Many theatres now host online stores with several goodies on offer, from totes and t-shirts to books and programmes. You could either wear them yourself to show off your knowledge or gift them to theatre-loving friends and family.
Give them a shoutout
Theatres are low on content for their social channels with no shows to promote. Give them something to share by posting a #throwbackthursday of the best show you saw there, a photo taken of the stage, or a selfie in your new merch. Of course, if you tune into a livestreamed performance as part of a digital programme, make sure to shout about it!
Write a blog
Always wanted to write for a site like The Indiependent or create your own review blog? Now’s your chance – you could write about topics like ‘The Top 10 Shows I Saw in 2020’ or ‘5 Reasons Why I Miss The Theatre’, linking to your local theatre to drive traffic to their site. It’s the perfect way to raise their profile while also kicking off your blogging career.
Words by Alice Hiley.
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