On what should have been a joyous day, the Barn Theatre have made the decision to close and also face losing £250,000. On the second birthday of the Cirencester based theatre we spoke to their producer Jamie Chapman Dixon about the decisions they have been making regarding Covid-19 and how people can help them re-open.
The Barn Theatre works as a charity and all their work is self-produced meaning that they don’t receive any shows and produce them all themselves. The theatre had their first press night two years ago today, and had been planning a Birthday Party event and had had previous cast members record videos to send in, Jamie said, “These few days were supposed to be very joyous with lots of things planned that have been cancelled.”
Although all their shows are self produced, they have recently been working on transferring them elsewhere, this started last year when their production of The 39 Steps transferred to Theatre Royal Wimbledon. Jamie explained, “and this year our plan was to transfer everything, so The Importance of being Earnest has already transferred to The Turbine, so that’s already happened. Mozart’s question, the plan for that was the Everyman and then a tour, or West End, we wanted to do something big with that show. We were in early talks about Ben Hur, but all of that has now been cancelled.”
In fact, Ben Hur only had its press night last week, “we spent a lot of money on that show and now it’s closed, which is a bit of a pain but life goes on.” Not only has the show had its run cut short but its set will stay standing throughout the closure as the theatre cannot afford the labour to take it down.
Barn Theatre get the most of their income from ticket sales, “over the last two years our tickets have sold very well and have got a very committed audience which is great, we solely rely on that.” Which means the decision to close wasn’t one taken lightly not only that but Jamie expressed how important it was for them to be able to pay their staff, “make sure that they can pay their rent, their mortgages and just go on with their lives.” Based on current estimations Barn Theatre think they will lose a quarter of a million pounds.
This collectively led to the launch of the ‘Save Our Barn Campaign’ which invites patrons to donate money to help them re-open. During the course of the interview Barn Theatre received a donation of £1,200 – which came from a 9 year old boy who had played Tiny Tim in their production of a Christmas Carol, using his production fee to help a place he loved. Jamie explained, ”
people are supporting and it will help us greatly, we need just to keep the lights, just pay the rent. If we close they’ll be no theatre here anymore, we’ll have to let all our staff go, and we just won’t recover. That’s the same for every other theatre and company in the country, they really need community support, whether that be donating money, spreading awareness, donating an item we could auction off for money – whatever you have that could help, we will happily accept it. “
To find out more about the Barn Theatre’s productions and the ‘Save Our Barn Campaign’ visit: https://barntheatre.org.uk/sob