£5 million to save two of region's flagship theatres from pandemic ruin

Two of the region's best known theatres are to get more than £5 million to help them survive the pandemic.

Norwich Theatre, which includes the Theatre Royal, the Playhouse and Stage Two, is to get £3million while Northampton's Royal and Derngate gets £2.1 million.

The money is coming from the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which announced a further £75 million for some of the country's most famous arts institutions today (Saturday 24 October 2020).

  • Watch a report from ITV Anglia's Kate Prout

Both theatres have had to make redundancies to stay afloat as performances - including their big earners like the Christmas pantos - had to be cancelled.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England will divide the latest cash between 35 of the country’s major arts and cultural organisations – two thirds of which are outside the capital.

Norwich Theatre, which attracts around 450,000 visitors a year will get the maximum grant of £3 million.

Stephen Crocker, the Chief Executive, described the money as a lifeline and said he was hugely grateful for the funding.

“With this grant comes extraordinary relief that our organisation has a lifeline until the end of March and an opportunity to recover, but it is accompanied by a profound feeling of responsibility as well. We will use these funds to reset ourselves in a way that supports the wider cultural ecology in our city, county and region.

Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre Chief Executive

We’re very pleased to support Norwich Theatre through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Its work has a significant impact, both in Norwich and more widely across the region and nationally, providing a wealth of opportunities for artists, audiences and communities.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England

Mr Crocker said shared creative experiences would help the country recover from the nightmare that had been Covid-19.

Also set to benefit is Northampton's Royal & Derngate Theatre.

It's been £2,112,891 to protect one of the region’s most significant venues. 

Royal & Derngate is the main venue for arts and entertainment in Northamptonshire, welcoming thousands of people to see its programme of drama, music, dance, comedy and film, much of which is co-produced with other companies.

  • Watch an interview with Royal and Derngate Theatre's Jo Gordon

The flexible nature of the Derngate auditorium enables them to host gala dinners, graduation ceremonies, conferences and flat floor standing music gigs. The venue houses a two-screen cinema, Northampton Filmhouse, currently offering an At Home online programme of films.

Through a shared management structure, the organisation also supports operational functions of its sister venue, The Core at Corby Cube – from marketing, finance and administration to ticketing and programming.

This funding will ensure they are able to partially reopen in January, before fully reopening next year.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said the theatre was a cornerstone of Northampton's cultural life and the grant would give them short term security and the chance to plan for the future.

From creating and producing ground-breaking new touring musicals, to hosting international ballet companies and sell-out West End shows, Royal & Derngate plays a crucial role in bringing interesting and diverse opportunities to people across the region.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England

The Government says today’s announcement builds on £334 million of funding which has been awarded to nearly 2,000 cultural organisations and venues of all sizes, including museums, circuses, festivals and comedy clubs across the country, to help them plan for reopening and restart performances and programmes.

It hopes the certainty and security provided by these grants will help these organisations keep going and create more opportunities for freelancers.


“As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we're saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million - from Shakespeare's Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are.  This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away."  

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden