Theatre / News

South Bristol theatre could make almost three-quarters of staff redundant

By martin booth, Friday Jul 10, 2020

In 2021, a south Bristol theatre had hoped to celebrate their 20th birthday. But with both of their theatres closed and no audiences visiting, they are now fighting to remain in business.

A grant from Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund, combined with support from audiences and supporters, will ensure that Tobacco Factory Theatres can stay afloat until October.

With all upcoming shows cancelled or postponed, however,  crucial box office income which has sustained the building and staff for almost two decades has stopped.

In a statement, artistic director Mike Tweddle and acting executive director David Dewhurst said that “the sudden loss of this income placed the charity in imminent danger of permanent closure.

“However, due to the generosity of so many people who’ve donated or waived a refund, and the Job Retention Scheme, we are still here in July. Thank you to everyone who’s made that possible.”

Tweddle and Dewhurst said that they “welcome the government’s announcement of a support package for the arts sector”.

They said: “We hope it can help every part of the ecosystem on which theatre depends – especially freelancers who make up the majority of the workforce. Details are urgently needed as to whether this package can benefit our organisation.

“Sadly, with the Job Retention Scheme closing at the end of October, we have had to take drastic action to keep the organisation afloat. We have made the heartbreaking decision to enter redundancy consultations with our employees, and we expect we will need to reduce staffing costs by as much as 70 per cent.

“Whilst audiences are the lifeblood of Tobacco Factory Theatres, our staff are its beating heart and most valuable asset. We thank them for their skills, passion and wisdom which have made the theatre a place to be proud of, and for their patience, understanding and courage during these hardest of times.”

The statement added: “It has never felt more vital for us to continue in our mission to offer a welcoming home for creative adventures, human connection and learning.

“If you are in a position to help secure the future of this theatre and those we work with, with any level of donation, we would be immensely grateful.”

To make a donation, visit

Main photo: Tobacco Factory Theatres

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