Group of actors and performers in a rehearsal space at the Lyric Hammersmith

£50,000 could save Lyric Hammersmith theatre as COVID-19 bites

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Image captionThe Cinderella cast in rehearsal for the 2019 annual Lyric panto

Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre is turning to its supporters to ask for help to ensure its survival as a top-tier drama centre.

It has launched a £50,000 crowdfunding appeal as it wrestles with the effects of the pandemic and works to find a way of safely reopening.

At stake is not just the flow of award-winning, innovative shows at the restored 600-seat theatre in Lyric Square, but also the community programmes that have introduced many borough youngsters to theatre and provided career openings.

Director Sian Alexander explained: “The Lyric is a charity, and we rely on ticket sales, bar sales, events, hires and classes for 75 per cent of our income.”

Artistic director Rachel O’Riordan added: “Our safety curtain is down and the stalls are empty. But we can see this theatre full again, with your help.”

Lyric; 125 years at the heart of Hammersmith
Image caption: The Lyric is celebrating 125 years in Hammersmith

Critical time

She described the coronavirus suspension as ‘a critical time’, likening it to the challenge of surviving two world wars, and said the Lyric was under financial pressure like never before having been dark for six months.

The duo have recorded a short video to underline the magnitude of the theatre’s plight in its 125th anniversary year after a successful decade in which nearly two million people have attended shows.

While Hammersmith & Fulham Council offers financial support for the Lyric and emergency Government funding has also helped, theatre management had to begin consulting on redundancies last month as it simply can’t afford to keep all staff on when the furlough payment scheme tapers away.

“We’re devastated that our closure has led to some of our talented team being made redundant,” said Sian Alexander.

The crowdfunding drive will help support youth activities at the theatre complex in King Street. The opening of the building’s Reuben foundation wing five years ago has enabled 180,000 teenagers to take part in classes and projects.

The pandemic is threatening the survival of theatres throughout the country. “Without urgent support we could lose our nation’s amazing theatres,” added the artistic director.

A series of rewards is on offer for donors to the crowdfunding drive, including golden commemorative pins, posters, backstage tours, tickets, hampers and – when normality returns – hosted parties for groups of friends.

Visit the Crowdfunder page for more details or to donate.

Child sitting in a red seat in a theatre auditorium
Image caption: The Lyric’s ‘Born in the Borough’ campaign pledges to give all borough newborns unrivalled artistic opportunities through their first quarter of a century

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