We have been providing entertainment for residents and visitors to the town for over 60 years. In March 2020, we were forced to close our doors, due to the restrictions placed on theatres, as a result of Covid-19.
We are now facing a period of up to 12 months with no shows and no income.
However, we are looking at this period of enforced closure as an opportunity. We want to use this time to plan and to prepare for the time when we are able to open our doors to you again, better than ever before.
You can help our St Austell Arts Centre: The Next Stage campaign by making a donation, or making a pledge for one of our special rewards.
Our theatre risks permanent closure, if we don't act now. We are determined that, with your help, this will not happen.
Donate now and you can help us achieve our "Magnificent Seven" aims:
* Ensure live theatre, music and comedy returns to St Austell, for the enjoyment and participation of all
* Preserve the Arts Centre's history and safeguard its future
* Create opportunities to employ freelance performers and technicians
* Support our many community groups that meet at the Arts Centre by guaranteeing they have a place to come home to, when they are ready to resume their artistic and leisure activities
* Fund essential repairs and maintenance to our much-loved venue
* Help us replace our loss of income during this time of enforced closure, in order to meet our continuing running costs
* Retain our skilled and experienced staff (one person!) to work alongside the Arts Centre's Trustees, to achieve the incredible future awaiting us all at the Arts Centre during our “Next Stage”
For over six decades we have been there for our community. We are now making this one-off request for you to be there for us.
The Arts Centre and its theatre is an essential part of life to many and has been for over six decades. We received no funding from the Government's recent £1.57 billion "Culture Rescue Package" as we were deemed to be too small to qualify.
That is why we are now taking our future into our own hands - with your help.
W J VARCOE - who previously lived on the land upon which the Arts Centre now sits and whose businesses were acquired by English China Clays in 1929.
Our theatre began life on an airbase at St Eval, Cornwall, as an original Quartermaster's Store. Following the Second World War, it was dismantled and brought to St Austell, flat-packed and re-sited on what had formerly been the grounds of a beautiful Victorian town house, the home of W J Varcoe, a leading light in the early days of the China Clay industry.
The various pieces of the building were then lovingly reassembled by volunteers and, over the years, with a patchwork of repairs and maintenance it has survived, sometimes only just!
Our socially-distanced "Comedy in the Car Park" event, with Kernow King, in October, 2020.
In recent years, the Arts Centre has become as successful as it has ever been. We have worked hard to build a loyal audience for our events. Music, theatre, film and comedy have all attracted sell-out audiences.
National and international performers have been attracted to perform at our little theatre. Local drama and pantomime groups have entertained audiences and often given performers and public their first-ever taste of theatre, with groups such as the St Austell Players, Trewoon Pantomime Group and To Life Productions.
Then, in March, the rug was pulled from beneath us. With no notice, we were forced to close. Shows were postponed or cancelled, advance ticket income was refunded and there is no prospect of this situation improving for months to come.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are potentially devastating to us. While social distancing is enforced, it is impossible to stage shows that are cost effective and profitable. We now face what could be a period of at least 12 months without shows and, therefore without income.
In order to keep live entertainment at the Arts Centre alive during the pandemic, we have had an event in our car park, with Cornwall's Kernow King, and we have an online event lined-up, as part of this campaign, with Chris Difford, co-founder and lead singer with Squeeze, on 21st November.
Sadly, though, income from these events, although welcome, do not meet anything close to our expenses over this time. However, we did not want the year to pass by without some effort on our part to keep entertainment going, in whatever way was possible.
We would now like to take this period of enforced closure as an opportunity. An opportunity to make sure that when we are able to re-open we can do so better than ever before.
We want to plan for the next period of the Arts Centre's story; we want to plan for "The Next Stage"!
If you have ever performed at the Arts Centre, please help us.
If you have ever seen a show at our theatre, please help us.
If you simply want to see Live entertainment in St Austell survive, please help us.
Shows like these...
The Blackheart Orchestra - Booked to return in 2021
Snake Davis - Booked to play in February, 2021 Photo credit: Steve Clark
Edward Rowe (Bait / Kernow King) - who performed at our Comedy in the Car Park event recently
To Life Academy "Tales of Christmas Eve" - Photo Credit: Hudson Swan
Dance, drama and performing arts academy based in Cornwall with a focus on student led original work. Classes, workshops, fabulous performance opportunities and teacher training, based at the Arts Centre.
To Life Productions "Vestalia" - Photo credit: Mark Walker
An original-work theatre company creating and performing productions across Cornwall, based at the Arts Centre.
St Austell Players - "The Lion in Winter" - The town's amateur drama company that has been performing at the Arts Centre for 60 years
St Austell Players - "Season's Greetings": Photo credit Paul Williams
Trewoon Pantomime Group - Photo credit: Paul Williams.
Award-winning family pantomime group that performs at the Arts Centre. Rehearsals should be in full-swing now for their 2021 show; a show that, sadly, will not be able to take place.
Roll on 2022!
Trewoon Pantomime Group - Photo credit: Paul Williams
In villages, towns and cities across the country, theatres are at the heart of their community. Places to come together, to be inspired and be entertained. Theatres are where our best-loved actors learn their craft and thousands of others learn valuable skills.
But we risk losing this forever.
Theatres saw their main source of income disappear in an instant when they closed in March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Six months later, we still don’t know when they will be able to reopen fully. A decision won’t be made until November at the earliest – too late for most to put on their annual pantomime, which often provides the income to support the theatre for the rest of the year.
This ongoing uncertainty puts theatres in a perilous situation. The government’s bailout is spread across all cultural organisations and certainly won’t be enough to save all of the UK’s theatres.
Every day theatres are facing the tough decision to make staff redundant and to close their doors until next year. And there is a real risk that those closures could be permanent.
Without urgent support, we could lose our nation’s amazing theatres. Please help us to make sure our theatres survive this crisis and will be there to be enjoyed by future generations.