Owner Colin Mattthews is up in arms after the Babbacombe Theatre was snubbed in government cash support

Angry - Babbacombe Theatre owner Colin Matthews

Angry - Babbacombe Theatre owner Colin Matthews - Credit: Archant

Owner Colin Mattthews is up in arms after the Babbacombe Theatre was snubbed in the latest round of government cash support

I have no intention of getting involved in the great Lockdown debate. The question is do we go for an all-out March-like shutdown which will once again batter our economy or do we keep focussing on localised/regional measures to fight this cursed virus?

That is for the Prime Minister, his band of merry men and women and scientist advisers to decide. I wouldn’t want their job for all the tea in China. Of course, some may so that is what they get paid for but it really is a no-win situation. Talking of pay, some tabloid papers were speculating last week that dear old Boris was talking about jacking it in the spring because he couldn’t afford to live on his current salary of more than £154,000 a year. Evidently, he was envious of former Premier Teresa May who has already bagged a million on the lecture circuit since leaving Downing Street.

Saying nothing on that one – although what I will say is I think the government has done a pretty good job so far with an array of measures to help keep businesses and people on their feet during this crisis.

But for me there was one blip in the latest round of cash aid this time aimed at our cultural groups and organisations who have struggled to survive since the curtain was brought down by that first lockdown.

The long list of those helped included theatres, festivals and other cultural projects and initiatives. But Babbacombe Theatre was nowhere to be seen!

The tiny theatre on the Downs was not happy. “Theatres were all in it together – now there is a divide - those that got funds and those that did not. The Babbacombe Theatre is apparently not #Here For Culture,” said the theatre.

Most Read

Owner Colin Matthews added: “Having saved the Babbacombe Theatre from closure in 1986 we have received a setback in ensuring its future survival having had our application for a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund turned down.

“Apparently in The Arts Council’s words we are not ‘culturally significant and/or contributing to providing cultural opportunity in England’. In my words – unfortunately we only provide entertainment for thousands of satisfied customers every year or we did before lockdown and the total loss of revenue!”

This message on Facebook had reached just under 250,000 people by Monday morning, with over 4.000 engagements, 80 comments and 170 shares.

“It just goes to show that this popular venue, is supported and loved by the thousands of people,” said Colin.

Acts from acts across the country, including West End stars, have been offering their time for a charity show. There have also been businesses offering support with contributions towards the #SAVEOURTHEATRES campaign organised via the Theatres Trust & Crowdfunder UK

The theatre is going to re-open next month to try and generate enough income to keep on the ‘dedicated staff and provide employment for the irreplaceable and talented performers.’

Colin is appealing to the public to buy tickets for the shows and for donations to a Crowd Funding page - https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/babbacombe-theatre - to help maintain the theatre’s position in the Bay.

The theatre says: “On TripAdvisor even whilst closed since March, we still rate as Number One under the heading ‘Things to Do in Torquay’.

“Yes, there have been enough five-star reviews to sustain our position and even without the funding, this theatre will fight on to maintain its position within the community whilst trying to continue to give the public what they want. Variety entertainment.”

Colin says: “Thank you for your support in the past, in the present and in the future.”

If you want to book tickets for upcoming shows – you can do so via the venue’s website. www.babbacombe-theatre.com. The Babbacombe Theatre, Colin and his team deserve our support. They are an important part of our community - generally as well as culturally.