Worthing Theatres and Museum praised for 'remarkable' pandemic performance

Released: Thursday, 08 July 2021

The 'remarkable' efforts of Worthing Theatres and Museum (WTM) to survive during the pandemic and lockdown have been praised after it was revealed that almost 40,000 people attended an event at one of the venues or digitally over the last 12 months.

Despite lockdowns WTM was able to showcase 144 socially distanced events including a live comedy series and 12 sold-out family theatre shows at Christmas.

But a report to a meeting of Adur & Worthing Councils' Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) reveals WTM saw revenue from ticket sales and event hire fall from a projected £3.5m to just £128,000. All staff have been furloughed at some point and 25 posts were made redundant.

The pandemic struck just five months after Worthing Borough Council agreed that WTM should become a standalone trust, free from the authority's operational control. The Council still owns the buildings.

Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Customer Services, Cllr Dr Heather Mercer, said:

“It was heartbreaking that so soon after we gave the brilliant management of WTM the chance to run their own show, the pandemic hit. This is an unprecedented time for the arts and culture across the world and it is a cause for much sadness that people have had to lose their jobs here in Worthing too.

“But looking at the programmes WTM still managed to put on during this terrible time convinces me that they will come through this stronger with their creativity enhanced and a determination to be right back in the centre of our cultural life.”

The JSC report describes the efforts of WTM as 'remarkable' and points out that during the time the venues were closed essential maintenance work and upgrades were carried out.

The costume gallery at the Museum has been refurbished, technical improvements at the Connaught and Pavilion have been made, the Pavilion Atrium now has 200 new theatre style seats for events and performances; new lighting and a projector. Fraser's Bar at The Connaught has new seating, lighting and carpets.

The report also outlines WTM received its £1.4m annual 'contracted service' payment from the Council during this time which the Trust has described as crucial in helping it keep afloat. It also received funds from the government's Cultural Emergency Funding and Arts Council support in the form of Cultural Recovery Funding.

Photo: Dress Rehearsal for PINOCCHIO (Credit - Worthing Theatres and Museum)

PR21-102 - Dress Rehearsal for PINOCCHIO (Credit - Worthing Theatres and Museum)

Photo: PINOCCHIO live show (Credit - Worthing Theatres and Museum)

PR21-102 - PINOCCHIO live show (Credit - Worthing Theatres and Museum)

Photo: The Bloody Chamber was on show at the Pavilion Theatre

PR21-102 - The Bloody Chamber was on show at the Pavilion Theatre

Photo: Connaught Theatre & Studio, Pavilion Theatre, Assembly Hall and Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

WTAM - Connaught Theatre & Studio, Pavilion Theatre, Assembly Hall and Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

(PR21-102)

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Page last updated: 16 July 2021