Community unites as fight to save much-loved theatre begins
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A community came out in their masses for the launch of a fundraising campaign to save their town’s theatre.
Trustees, volunteers and theatre-goers gathered this afternoon at Bungay’s Fisher Theatre, whose survival is under threat due to a long-standing debt to the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) - from whom the facility was purchased in 1996.
But in a statement released last week, the AHF said it was giving the community the chance to own the building outright if they manage to raise £150,000 by the end of the year.
Successfully raising the money would free the theatre and the affiliated Bungay Arts and Theatre Society from the entirity of its debt.
The announcement has prompted what looks set to be an intense crowdfunding campaign, during which all proceeds must be raised by the local community and willing donations.
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Ruth Selwyn-Crome, who is one of the trustees leading the charge, said: “We have had this large loan hanging over us for a while now, but now the AHF - who have been very supportive in recent years - need to release the loan to help other buildings.
“We hope the effect of the launch will be to attract attention to the theatre and reinvigorate interest in the place.
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“Bungay is a lovely spot but, because it is halfway between Norwich and Southwold, it’s one of those places that could easily get forgotten. There’s a lot going on at the Fisher and a theatre has the power to attract people for so many different reasons.
In addition to launching the campaign, today’s event served as an opportunity to celebrate the theatre and its endless array of activities.
Artists, poets and performers united to showcase exactly what the town would be missing out on were the theatre to close.
Among them was much-loved children’s author and illustrator, James Mayhew, who lives in Bungay and is one of the theatre’s patrons.
“This is the very last Fisher theatre that is still actually used as a theatre,” said Mr Mayhew. “It’s a real asset to the community, with a wonderful theatre, beautiful gallery space and great technical facilities.
“It would absolutely amazing if we can safeguard this place for the future of Bungay. It’s so valued by the community and could do so much more if it didn’t have to worry about its debt.”