Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal has closed temporarily with bosses warning the coronavirus will have a “devastating” affect on its finances.
Theatre bosses are asking supports to donate to an appeal set up to keep the theatre going and have thanked well-wishers who have donated the cost of tickets for cancelled shows or accepted a credit note rather than a refund.
All performances have been cancelled until further notice and guided tours are suspended.
“It is with a very heavy heart that we have taken this decision,” said the theatre’s chief executive, Clare Allen.
“However, we feel it is the right thing to do in order to protect our audiences, performers, visitors, volunteers and staff, as well as to ensure the safety of the community at large.”
Theatre bosses say it is not known how long the theatre will have to remain closed but the situation will be reviewed carefully over the coming weeks.
Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre classes are still going ahead as they are linked to school openings and closures, although this could change at any time.
It is hoped that many of the cancelled performances will be rescheduled and as soon as the arrangements for individual shows are known, the theatre will be contacting ticket-holders with options for a ticket transfer, credit note or refund.
This process may take some time but it has already started and will be completed as quickly as possible, staff say.
“We are sure that many people will be disappointed by the cancellations but hope that they understand our reasons for the closure. So far, we have been extremely touched by people’s kind response and amazing generosity.
“Many have chosen to accept a credit note or donate the cost of their ticket to the theatre, as they realise that these measures will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on our financial well-being,” said Clare Allen.
“The theatre has been here since 1788 and it would be desperately sad if we were to lose this much-loved treasure now.
“We would be incredibly grateful for people’s support at this critical time so that, when this is all over, we can welcome back audiences and celebrate together as a community.”
If anyone is able to offer support to the theatre they can donate to the A Living Theatre Campaign which was launched last year by Sir Ian McKellen to help the 230-year-old institution reach financial sustainability.
Details of the campaign with an online donation facility can be found on the theatre’s website www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk or by calling 01748 823710.