Leeds Heritage Theatres are iconic locations in the district, and would normally be bursting with Christmas cheer welcoming festive shows to the stage.
This year, as we all know, has been devastating for the arts and culture sector. It will be the first time in Leeds Heritage Theatres’ 400-year history that all three buildings will not open over Christmas.
We all know that protecting audiences, employees and performers must be the priority, but nevertheless it leaves all venues in a financial predicament.
The ‘keep a seat warm this Christmas’ campaign allows patrons to purchase tickets to future shows. They can also buy memberships, gift vouchers and merchandise.
Chris Blythe, CEO, said: “In December 2019 we welcomed more than 60,000 people to our venues to enjoy one of 120 performances or screenings, generating an income of £1.4 million from ticket sales and £198,000 from secondary sales (including bar and merchandise). This year the statistics will be very different.”
Luckily the venues have received several grants, including £1.5million from the government and Art Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund. Chris Blythe adds that the venues would have completely run out of money on November 2nd should these grants not have been given.
“The grant is a lifeline for which we will be forever grateful,” says Blythe. “The money has allowed us to cover our fixed costs until March and re-inflate our reserves to zero – reserves which we had planned to invest back into our three heritage buildings. However, no matter how generous, the money will still not see us out of the woods completely, hence our need to ask our audiences for support – the irony of which, when everyone is suffering financially, is not lost on me.
“I know it is a huge ask, especially at Christmas, but I also know how much our three venues mean to the people of Leeds and wider region. The support and generosity of our patrons this year has been overwhelming – both financially and emotionally. It is abundantly clear that arts and culture are needed now more than ever to help boost people’s mental health and build community through shared experience as we all try to find some escapism from our day-to-day and ongoing concerns for our futures.”
To support Leeds Heritage Theatres this Christmas, visit leedsheritagetheatres.com.
Photograph credited to Tony O’Connell