Theatre by the Lake to make 'significant redundancies' to protect its future

A popular arts venue in the Lake District has announced 'significant' redundancies, as the industry battles to survive the uncertainty of coronavirus.

The Theatre by the Lake, in Keswick, relies heavily on ticket sales, donations and trading, and since the pandemic closed all theatres in the UK, the venue has taken a massive financial hit.

Bosses say they have been forced to take action to protect the future of the theatre during this 'challenging period of disruption and uncertainty.'

The venue, which relies on £2.5m a year of earned income, has not said how many jobs will go, but say it will be run by a much smaller team.

They have also cancelled the Christmas production of The Borrowers.

For Keswick, it's a bit like having one of your limbs cut off.

Mayor of Keswick, Councillor Paul Titley.

Executive Director James Cobbold and Artistic Director Liz Stevenson said:“Our industry is facing an exceptionally challenging situation for the foreseeable future.

"We’ve come to the incredibly difficult conclusion that we have to take action now to ensure Theatre by the Lake survives this challenging period of disruption and uncertainty.

"Our staff are talented, knowledgeable and creative people who care deeply about the work they do and the difference they make in their community.

"However if there is to be theatre in Keswick, and if we are to provide employment opportunities in the future then we have no choice but to consider these actions in the short term.”

Dame Judi Dench is a patron of the theatre. Credit: PA

The theatre, located on the shores of Derwentwater in Keswick, is the only arts venue in Cumbria that produces all year-round, and one of the town's biggest employers.

It contributes significantly to the local economy, attracting audiences in excess of 120,000 annually, with prestigious patrons such as Dame Judi Dench.

Adding their voice to the industry’s calls on the Government to consider specific support for theatres, they added: “For the theatre industry to survive this crisis, we must see further investment quickly.

"Over recent years, theatres have worked hard to operate on reducing levels of public subsidy by increasing their reliance on high ticket sales and as a result are at greater threat in this unprecedented crisis.

"Britain’s world-class reputation for theatre, its vital positive impact upon audience’s health and wellbeing, and the significant contribution it makes to the economy must be protected for the future.”