Play to the Crowd Survival Appeal

Play to the Crowd profile

Project by Play to the Crowd

We did it
On 25th September 2020 we successfully raised £136,119 ( + est. £29570.75 Gift Aid ) with 1959 supporters in 83 days

Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair & Playmakers will disappear by the end of September unless we act now.

 New stretch target

Thank you! We’ve smashed our £120,000 stretched target on Crowdfunder. Amazing! What an extraordinary response from our community with well over 1,800 people donating between £1 and £10,000 each.

We are now busy counting up all the offline donations and calculating the gift aid to see if we have achieved our overall Survival Appeal target of £225,000 and will be in a position to update you all on 1st October.

In the meantime, if you are able to, please continue donating. The Crowdfunder will remain open to receive your contributions and every last penny we can gather will help us manage all the financial risks we face this winter as a theatre in these uncertain times.

Thank you to each and every one of you. We're blown-away by your generosity.

Live performance is under threat. 

Together we must act to save it.


We are Play to the Crowd, the arts and education charity that runs Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair and Playmakers.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are financially devastating us. While social distancing is enforced, our vital work is impossible.

The theatre cannot open.

The festival cannot happen.

Workshops and activities cannot bring our community together.

Together we must ACT NOW

When Theatre Royal Winchester was forced to close on 16 March, we lost all of our ticket and bar income overnight (80% of our charity’s turnover).

Prior to this our charity was thriving, with a strengthening financial position, excellent governance and leadership and an exciting new re-brand.

Since March, we’ve taken significant measures and made difficult decisions to safeguard the future of our charity. 

So far we have:

  • Minimised our cost base by furloughing 90% of our team from the latter part of March (and will continue to utilise the UK Government’s Job Retention scheme until the support ends)
  • Accessed all financial support available to us from the UK Government, and applied to Arts Council England’s Emergency Fund
  • Consulted with our stakeholders and audiences about how we can best serve our community now and in a post-Covid world
  • Entered a period of consultation with our staff to re-structure the organisation to make significant cost and overhead savings

Our generous audiences have also already raised a fantastic £25,000 donating their ticket monies and purchasing memberships since we closed. 

But all of this is still not enough. 

We need £225,000 by September to survive this crisis.

We are looking at every avenue to secure these funds. We hope this crowdfunder will help us to raise at least £60,000 towards our target, and help you, our audience, to continue to make an extremely impactful contribution to our survival.

Donate now and your support will:

  • Ensure we can continue to exist and deliver you joyous and life-affirming activities at Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair and through Playmakers 
  • Retain as many of our highly skilled and experienced staff as possible, who are committed to mentoring, supporting and serving our community into the future
  • Maintain our beautiful heritage theatre building, which stands at the cultural heart of Winchester as a vital community asset 
  • Create and develop our new future, post Covid-19, so live performance and participation can thrive in our community


Why our vital work is important

Our arts and education charity exists to delight and unite through the power of live performance.

We are a unique and vital connecting force between artists and audiences.

We ensure that live performance thrives in our community with equal opportunities for everyone.

In 2019/20 we gave:

  • 300+ FREE performances enjoyed by 90,000+ people at Hat Fair
  • 70,000+ people comedy, theatre, dance, panto, music and opera performances at Theatre Royal Winchester
  • 10,000+ local school pupils creative workshops, educational theatre visits and careers support
  • 2,500+ community performers, emerging and established artists access to our unique theatre space and skilled mentoring
  • £1 million+ in additional positive economic impact for Winchester.

Until we can join together again in a shared space - telling each other stories, laughing and crying and cheering and learning together - this vital work is not financially sustainable. 


Live performance is under threat. 

Together we must act to save it.

Please give to this appeal to support a robust future for Play to the Crowd.



Play to the Crowd is an arts and education charity, based in Winchester, Hampshire. Our family comprises of:

  • Theatre Royal Winchester - a beautiful middle scale heritage theatre, one of the only surviving cine-variety theatres in the UK
  • Hat Fair - the oldest operating Outdoor Arts Festival in the country
  • Playmakers - a range of community engagement and creative learning programmes and activities for all ages

We exist to delight and unite everyone through the power of live performance. We inspire people to connect with and participate in live performance - both indoors and out – inviting them to 'escape from the ordinary' and discover a lifelong love of theatre and the arts.



We can guarantee that all your donations will go to ensuring we can meet our core objective which is to sustain our charity and its component parts: Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair and Playmakers. If we were unable to achieve that your money would be returned.

We can guarantee that any advance ticket sales money is ring fenced and kept safe for you whatever the challenges faced by the charity. You can continue booking tickets safe in the knowledge that your money is safe with us and that a full refund would be offered if we were unable to present the event.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£75 or more

30 of 30 claimed

Private tour (up to 6 people)

Donate £75 or more and you and your loved ones can join us for a private backstage tour at Theatre Royal Winchester. Discover the rich history of our 170-year-old heritage building, explore behind-the-scenes and step on to our historic stage - plus visit our fly tower to see the view from above, if you dare!

£35 or more

FREE Membership

Donate £35+ and we'll give you a FREE Play to the Crowd membership to use throughout next year! Enjoy ticket discounts and 10% off food and drink at Theatre Royal Winchester, plus behind-the-scenes news, Members-only events and access to local discounts across Winchester.

£120 or more

Become a Champion

Donate £120+ and we will name you as a Play to the Crowd Champion. In addition to a complimentary Play to the Crowd membership, you will receive invitations to exclusive behind-the-scenes events, with the opportunity to meet and greet artists and our creative teams.

£500 or more

Name a Seat

Donate £500+ and we can celebrate your special moment by naming a seat in our theatre auditorium. Your seat will be yours, or your loved one's, for a decade and you can personalise your plaque with an inscription of your choice.

£1,000 or more

Become an Investor

Donate £1000+ and we will name you as a Play to the Crowd Investor. Investors are visionary donors who will enable our organisation to flourish, now and long into the future. Your support will be recognised with a suite of benefits exclusive to you, which could include personal engagement with artists and our team, private events and public acknowledgement.

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