Campaign to save Hornchurch theatre’s funding

Queen's Theatre has launched a series of videos to get support from visitors against budget cuts.

Queen's Theatre has launched a series of videos to get support from visitors against budget cuts. - Credit: Archant

Queen’s Theatre, under threat of having its funding slashed, has released a series of videos in an attempt to rally support.

Havering Council has proposed to reduce funding by £200,000 in a bid to make £60million of savings.

Thom Stanbury, administrative director of the Hornchurch theatre, said: “We think that after 60 years of unbroken support of the Queen’s Theatre, the council is in danger of making a terrible mistake.”

The venue has created a series of films dedicated to its supporters in the hope of making the council reconsider its proposal.

The video labelled “We are proud”, features theatre staff explaining why they are proud to work there.

Carpenter Lewis Tomlinson says it is “one big happy family” and box office assistant Suzanne Searle describes it as a “happy environment”.

Theatre-goers Sinead Blatch, Lauren Bracewell, Georgina Field and actor Steve Simmonds were also asked about what the venue meant to them when they were growing up.

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Steve said: “These wonderful videos remind us exactly why the Queen’s is so cherished and a lifeline to this community and why it’d be a huge shame if we had to reduce or stop the kind of work we do because of cuts to our grant.

“We really hope these recordings will encourage our supporters to make their voices heard.”

Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet minister for culture, revealed in an interview with the Recorder, that theatre chairman Dennis Rycroft was already in talks with the council about possible ideas to generate income, if the proposal does go ahead, including taking performances on the road.

But Mr Stanbury said: “They’re not counting the local businesses we work with, they’re not counting the 175 people we employ, they’re not counting the 150 children and young people we work with every year.”

The theatre is urging residents to show their support by writing to the council, councillors, and their MPs.

The consultation period closes on December 29.

Visit http://bit.ly/1yk83te to see the videos.