The bid has been launched for a share of £1.57billion in Government funding for North Devon’s two theatres amid warnings the Christmas pantomime may be cancelled.

Selaine Saxby at the Landmark Theatre with Selladoor Worldwide CEO David Hutchinson to discuss its bid for Government funding. Picture: SelladoorSelaine Saxby at the Landmark Theatre with Selladoor Worldwide CEO David Hutchinson to discuss its bid for Government funding. Picture: Selladoor

Selladoor Worldwide, which runs the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, hopes to secure enough of the Culture Recovery Fund Grant to keep the venues going.

But CEO David Hutchinson has warned that despite earlier hopes, the Christmas pantomime might not happen this year and it was possible the venues may not open fully until March 2021.

The fund is administered by the Arts Council and includes £880million available in grants, but applications must be made between August 11 and 21.

Mr Hutchinson met with North Devon MP Selaine Saxby on Thursday, July 30 to launch North Devon’s bid for funding.

He warned that despite earlier hopes, the Christmas pantomime might not happen this year and it was possible the venues may not open fully until March 2021.

But there are plans to open what they can, including the already-open Landmark café and a cinema option in both theatres, plus the possibility of some sort of festival in Ilfracombe at the end of August, subject to social distancing.

Mr Hutchinson said: “It’s really important that art is a part of the community and is on peoples’ doorsteps and we have to protect that for North Devon.

“We are working towards presenting a panto this year but in the next few weeks if there is not a timeline to reopen the theatre without social distancing that will no longer be viable.”

He urged people to support the Landmark café - which has widely spaced tables throughout – and what summer programme they can provide.

He said: “We have had no operation since March and we will be on a limited operation for months to come.

“When we do announce what activities we can do in this building, please come and support the theatre – we need you now more than ever.”

Selaine Saxby said: “If we lose this, children of this area and their families won’t have access to the arts and I find that terrifying.

“I have already met with theatres minister Caroline Dinenage twice and I have also spoken with Oliver Dowden, secretary for culture and I will be supporting Selladoor’s bid however I can.”