Blackburn Empire Theatre was built on a dream by a group of local volunteers to convert an abandoned cinema into a community theatre and asset.
It took nearly 20 years to realise that dream, having raised over £800,000 with support from local people, companies and an enthusiastic band of volunteers.
Operating as a charity, with a handful of staff and a large band of willing volunteers, the theatre has been able to bring nearly 300 shows to the public every year and is the home for Blackburn Drama Club, Blackburn Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Blackburn Musical Theatre Company, Junior Dance Schools, The Gos Entertainment Group and professional production company Pendle Productions.
The theatre welcomes a host of professional, amateur, local and school productions as well as the longest run of pantomime in the area. With a varied programme of music, comedy, dance, variety and family shows, it has become the main community hub for arts in the area.
Now, 18 years on from reopening the 332 seat theatre, the COVID pandemic hit the theatre and the impact has been dramatic.
Income generated from tickets sales dropped to practically zero and all the staff had to be furloughed.
The theatre operates as a non-profit charity and uses excess funds to maintain and improve the theatre, so therefore cannot not rely on reserves.
So it’s a simple message, the theatre needs your support.
Chairman Michael Berry said: “We are moving forward and hoping to reopen with socially distanced audiences and a few shows in January 2021. Our original plans included bringing back our Panto before Christmas but Blackburn has been in some form of restriction for many months and we had to cancel this vital production.
“Without regular shows & full houses we cannot ensure a long-term future for the theatre. With a capacity of only 40%, socially distanced shows will, at best, break even. But we want to do it. People want to come back to theatre, they want confidence that it can be done safely and they want to support the theatre. So we will reopen to give people confidence in the theatre and to show support for our local community.
“This is not a sustainable way to operate moving forwards and it does not magically fill the massive gap that COVID has left. With Blackburn having one of the lowest levels of cultural engagement in the country, we simply can not afford to lose this asset.
“It took us 20 years to build the dream and we’ve been at the centre of arts productions in the area for the last 18 years and that’s why we need your support.
“Even if you can’t afford to donate a few pounds to help us, sharing our posts on social media, telling your friends and just talking about our theatre is a great help. Please show your support in whatever way you can.”
Check out our rewards and see if you can help.
You can also create your own page to help the theatre too.
Let’s keep the dream alive!
Above: The print available in rewards.
Terms and Conditions for the Show Prize Draw
The promoter is: Blackburn Empire Theatre, Blackburn, Lancashire.
The draw is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over except employees of Blackburn Empire Theatre and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
You can also enter this draw for free by posting your entry to Crowdfunder Draw, Blackburn Empire Theatre, Aqueduct Road, Blackburn BB2 4HT, enclosing your name, address & a contact telephone number.
By entering this draw, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via Crowdfunder or post
Multiple entries from the same person are allowed.
Closing date for entry is 31st January 2021. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
The prize is as follows:
Tickets for 4 people to a show of the winners' choosing (subject to availability). Two standard drinks per person will also be included the prize. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
Winners will be chosen at random by software, from all entries received and verified by Promoter and or its agents.
The winner will be notified by email within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current [UK] data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
The winner’s name will be available 28 days after closing date by emailing the following address email@example.com
Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.