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Financial Survival in These Crazy Times

Financial Survival in These Crazy Times

Here is one amateur theatre’s approach which highlights some opportunities for you to consider for your theatre.
Chads Theatre in Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester used Crowdfunding, Government Covid support grants, a Bounce Back Loan, local council flexible funds and the Charities Aid Foundation Donate platform to bolster the theatre’s finances and improve cash flow.

Financial survival differs between our theatres. Like Chads Theatre, many amateur venues are staffed just by volunteers and so are able to weather the financial storm easier than those with paid members of staff and the professional theatres.

The recent Theatres Trust #SaveOurTheatres Crowdfunder has been successfully used by both amateur and professional theatres alike raising over £1million (excluding Gift Aid) for fifty-five UK theatres with donations from more than 15,700 supporters. Chads Theatre took part in the campaign raising over £8,000.


One-off campaigns can be very successful in the short term but theatres are also looking for ways to obtain regular long-term support. One common method used by sports clubs is a weekly lottery. Stockport County Football Club ran such a lottery and was looking to expand. Stockport Garrick Theatre was approached in 2008 by the club’s Lottery business development manager to agree a deal. The Theatre would promote the lottery to their members and audience on their publicity material, website, programmes and posters. In return the theatre would receive a percentage of every pound spent by players of the lottery who had signed up as a result of seeing it on Stockport Garrick’s publicity. This arrangement has worked well over the years and given a small but steady income to Stockport Garrick Theatre with minimal administration effort for the theatre. Chads Theatre also joined in 2018. Although the benefits of these arrangements are clear that it would be difficult to see how it could be expanded to other theatres across the UK.

Steve Pratt (above) instigated both Stockport Garrick Theatre and Chads Theatre joining the lottery and wanted to help other theatres across the UK to benefit as well. The association with their local football team worked for the Stockport-based theatres but wouldn’t work with other theatres across the UK. It was also felt that the association with a football team would not necessarily appeal to theatres or might even discourage people from joining if they supported a different team (which is arguably inevitable).

An opportunity to expand the use by theatres came in 2019 when the National Youth and Community Development Assoc. (NYCDA) took over the management and administration of the Lottery. The NYCDA wanted to expand the use of the Lottery to other types of clubs. They approached Steve and, out of their discussions, the idea for ‘Your Theatre Lottery’ was born. Essentially, this is exactly the same arrangement as described above but under the banner of Your Theatre Lottery and so it can appeal to theatres across the UK. The website (visit: was launched this summer and has already seen two more theatres – Corn Exchange Stamford and The Guild of Players in Dumfries – sign up.


Other funds that have been obtained by Chads from Stockport Council are a £10,000 grant from the Government’s Leisure and Hospitality scheme. A further £1,600 was awarded from the council’s Ward Flexible funding scheme. A quick look at other council websites shows that there are similar flexible fund schemes available on many local council websites. It would be worth checking what is available in your area.

In 2018 Chads Theatre took out a loan to help finance the replacement of the auditorium roof (at a higher interest rate than the Covid-19 bounce back loans’ low rate of 2%). Chads has also been able to take advantage of this low rate and is using the bounce back loan to pay off a significant part of the original loan. The bounce back loan also offers benefits to cash flow as there is no capital repayment due in the first year and the Government is paying the interest for the first year. It is a simple loan to apply for and for Chads, the turnaround was very quick.


Due to the lockdown restrictions many theatres will not be having their normal Christmas celebrations which gave members an opportunity to exchange Christmas cards. At Chads they have set up a donation page via the Charities Aid Foundation for members to donate what they would have spent on cards and have a message put onto a virtual Christmas Card on the theatre’s website.

The CAF donate page is free to set up and does not charge fees. This provides another way to keep regular donations coming. You can embed the donate method into your own webpages. CAF will even claim the gift aid for you if you choose.

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