The operator of North Devon’s theatres has welcomed the Government’s promise of a £1.57billion support package for the arts sector.

The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. Picture: Chris Harris/AlamyThe Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. Picture: Chris Harris/Alamy

Selladoor Worldwide, which runs the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and The Landmark in Ilfracombe, has said the funding will be a vital life line as theatres closed since March struggle to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Selladoor has confirmed it has extended the temporary closure of the Queen’s and The Landmark November, with a plan in place to reopen pre-pantomime season on November 26.

The support package was announced on Monday, July 6 by culture, media and sports secretary Oliver Dowden and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

As yet there has been no detail on how much individual organisations might get, or how they apply for the funding.

Selladoor CEO David Hutchinson said: “This funding promises to offer our sector a vital lifeline as we continue to plan survival through Covid-19.

“The theatre sector has been decimated since closure in March, and what is clear is that we won’t be able to open our doors anytime soon as running a commercially viable theatre model with social distancing just isn’t possible.

“What the Government have done today is to strongly acknowledge the value of the arts – both economic and cultural – and that is an incredibly positive endorsement for all in the theatre sector who have suffered many months of adversity during one of the biggest crises to hit the industry in the last century.

“The absolute key is in the detail now, of how these funds can support the wide ecology of people and organisations in the arts – and do so quickly.

“We’ve seen thousands of redundancies, many theatres on the brink of collapse and the damage of losing vital skills, experience and artists from our sector for good.

“We need to mobilise fast to start working as a sector to move together to the rebuild stage.”

Phillip Rowntree, chief financial officer, added: “The economic impact of Covid-19 has been felt by individuals and businesses throughout the country, but none more than the theatre sector, one of the first to close and certainly one of the last to reopen again.

“The Government announcement of a £1.57bn support package is a vital lifeline for a sector so badly affected by this pandemic and we are very grateful for the acknowledgement of the value of arts and culture in the UK.

“Time is of the essence now, and in order for us to make best use of these funds we need clear guidance on the Government’s timeline for allowing venues to reopen again.”