The highly respected amateur theatre company needs to ensure its summer season of plays can continue next year based at the idyllic open air setting of Tolethorpe Hall.
The impact of Covid-19 on SSC has been enormous. The theatre and hall were closed in March this year meaning the potential loss of nearly a quarter of a million pounds in ticket sales.
As a charity who receive no funding from any arts organisations or formal sponsorship, SSC relies on income from tickets to fund the productions, maintain the beautiful grounds and upkeep the Grade II* listed Elizabethan Hall.
Leaders say the future of SSC is now “at great risk”.
Caroline Stephenson, chairman of the company’s board of directors, said although the government lifted some of the restrictions on theatres, allowing outdoor venues to re-open with social distancing in place, the players have not been able to rehearse, they have not finished the construction of sets, or the costumes for actors and therefore productions could not proceed this year.
She said: “We are all so lucky to have this theatre on our doorstep. To date, we have welcomed over a million audience members, to share experiences with friends and family through theatre, giving volunteers a place to be valued, and inspiring young people to dream big.
“Losing this wonderful, unique and special place would leave a void in our community. We have been putting on Shakespeare plays for over 50 years and we are determined that Covid-19 will not put an end to this, but without the help from the community, we will not survive.
“We are enormously grateful to our patrons and overwhelmed by their continued generosity and kindness. We now need you more than ever.”
Determined to overcome the shortfall, members are organising as many fundraising events as they can, including a car boot sale on Sunday, September 27 from 10am to 3pm in the orchard car park at Tolethorpe Hall, with all funds raised going to the SSC Save Your Theatre Campaign.
Caroline said: “Our wonderful cast members, backstage volunteers, and everyone in between, have been collecting items to sell. From trinkets, to jewellery, to clothing, to homeware items, you name it, it’ll be there, along with some gems from the SSC costume and prop vault.
“We will be opening our gates to welcome everyone to the car parks, which will hopefully be jam-packed full of treasure. Unfortunately the house will not be open to the public on the day so there will be no facilities or refreshments available.”
If you have anything you would like to donate to the sale, there will be collection boxes outside the gates of Tolethorpe Hall up until Thursday September 24. If you have anything larger you wish to donate, you can drop those items off between 10am and 4pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Let Miriam Spring Davies know to expect your larger delivery and she can arrange a time with you. You can contact Miriam via email at [email protected]
If you would like to go along as a seller, it is £15 per pitch. Contact Miriam Spring Davies to book your pitch.
Organisers will be enforcing Covid-19 safety measures, including a one way system and social distancing. It will be cash only. Wearing masks will be encouraged, but not mandatory.
You can donate to the cause by going to their Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SSCsaveyourtheatre or make an electronic bank transfer to the account name: Stamford Shakespeare Co. , Account No: 9083 2324
Sort Code: 20-81-20.
Cheques can be made payable to Stamford Shakespeare Company sent in a secure envelope to: Stamford Shakespeare Company, Tolethorpe Hall, Little Casterton, Stamford, PE9 4BH.
For more information, visit the fundraising website: www.saveyourtheatre.co.uk