When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Theatre company is struggling to weather the storm
IT HAS always prided itself on its innovative outdoor settings.
But in a year which has seen torrential rain, gale-force winds and even a tornado in Oxfordshire, Creation Theatre is finding it hard to weather the storm.
Bookings are down so far that if things don’t get better for the Oxford-based theatre company, next summer’s season might be in jeopardy.
So far the company is £13,000 down on the equivalent week last July.
Creation’s Cheryl Pearce said: “We are not going to suddenly stop our shows but it presents the possibility of us not doing any shows next year if we don’t see an improvement.
“We have had a whole month’s rain in the opening weeks of our new show and even though we have got an indoor back-up, people have been holding out.”
Creation’s latest production, The Merchant of Venice, has been showing at the Said Business School since earlier this month and while the performance is on the school’s roof, there is an indoor alternative if it rains.
But Ms Pearce said some of the people who went to Creation’s performances preferred to go to the outdoor performance, especially tourists, and were put off by the possibility of it being indoors.
This summer an anonymous trust has agreed to double any donations which are given to the theatre company until the end of August.
Low ticket sales have meant there has had to be a real push for donations at the end of each show.
The company works towards pocketing nearly £200,000 from its summer performance, which allows it to pays its costs and put something away for the next season.
Ms Pearce said the theatre company was looking for funding beyond August but added the coming month would “determine next summer”.
She said the company’s educational programme, which includes school and holiday workshops and drama clubs, would be less at risk since it did not depend on the weather.
Creation is Oxfordshire’s largest theatre producer and was founded by David Parrish in 1996 after he turned away from a career in banking.
It has staged performances in the city’s rooftops, parks and even the Cowley car factory.
In ten years audience numbers have rocketed from 3,500 in 1996 to more than 50,000 in 2006.
According to Met Office figures, this June was the wettest on record while in the first two weeks of July, Oxfordshire received more than 130 per cent of its monthly rainfall.
This is not the first time that Creation has been in this situation.
The summer rain and floods of 2007 meant it was only saved by donations after it became a charity.
While plans for the showing of Aladdin and the Magical Lamp this Christmas remain on course, the company has no guarantees about what will happen after that.
To find out more about Creation Theatre and to make a donation visit creationtheatre.co.uk or call 01865 766266.
Last week Creation held a fundraising performance of The Merchant of Venice, where all proceeds went towards Oxford-based loneliness charity Archway.
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood, who has become a patron of Archway, was at the Said Business School to receive the £2,500 raised.