On Monday morning, news filtered through about the closure of North Devon’s two theatres. By midday there was an official announcement that Theatres Trust had gone into voluntary administration. J M Williams and J A O’Sullivan of Bishop Fleming LLP have been appointed to adminiter the Trust.
Residents of North Devon have since taken action to try and save their theatres, following the annoucement. Within a few hours of the announcements, a campaing to fight the closure was in full swing, with a petition, a hashtag and a Facebook page.
The Facebook page, Save North Devon Theatres, already has over 5,000 likes. The page was created by the chairman of Ilfracombe and District’s Trade Union Council, Helen Cooper, who is calling for residents to fight for their theatre.
Helen is urging residents to write to the district council by using the address: Mr Mike Mansell, The Chief Executive, North Devon Council, PO Box 379, Barnstaple, EX32 2GR. Alternatively, you can also email Mr Mansell at [email protected]
A petition is available online and has already attracted over 5,000 signatures, as well as many passionate appeals explaining why the theatres need to remain open.
Some popular stand up comedians are also adding their names to a petition to save North Devon Theatres.
Bill Bailey, who has performed at both the Queen’s in Barnstaple Theatre and the Landmark Theatre, tweeted the petition to save the theatres.
He said: “Very sad news that @NDevonTheatres are closing. These are excellent venues – register support here.”
Independent councillor, Frank Biederman, also expressed his dissappointment with the developments and called for an emergency meeting to look into the situation.
Jonathan Williams of Bishop Fleming added: “Despite the best efforts of the Board of Trustees the trust has had to enter into administration. We will work closely with the board to achieve the best resolution possible for everyone concerned.”
According to the chairman of the trustees, the theatres have seen a drop in attendance of nearly 20 percent in the last 12 months. That reality, coupled with a continued reduction in grants received from the North Devon Council, pose significant obstacles for the theatres.
However, the outpour of support for the theatre’s to remain open will certainly weigh heavily in favour of the theatre’s remaining open.
Nevertheless, the future of the theatres remains uncertain. We would be watching the developments closely with our fingers crossed.