Chiswick Playhouse misses out on government funding

Chiswick Playhouse has not been granted funding from the Culture Recovery Fund. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced a £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help cultural organisations face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

So far 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country have heard that they are to receive urgently needed support in the first round of grants, but the Chsiwick Playhouse is not one of them. Owner Mark Perry told The Chiswick Calendar it was “hugely disappointing.”

The theatre had bid for £75,000 in funding. There are two rounds of applications but they’ve been told they can’t reapply if they’ve been turned down in the first round.

“We weren’t given a specific reason” Mark told us, “and there are too many places applying for them to give individual feedback”.

He suspects it may be that they’re considered too small:

“Not many of the smaller theatres have received money. It’s frustrating that we won’t be told. It’s a very difficult bit of news”.

Image above: Chiswick Playhouse what’s on this autumn

Mark took over the running of the tiny theatre above the Tabard pub on Bath Rd when it was known as the Tabard and has acted in productions there as well as directing.

“I’ve never taken a penny of government money” he said, “we’ve never had Arts Council funding and I’ve always wanted it to be viable in its own right”.

But he said, he has no intention of giving up:

“I’ve put too many years and too much of my own money into the theatre to give up on it. I’ve never totted it up, I don’t dare to, but I must have put many thousands of pounds into the theatre, probably into six figures”.

He launched a fundraising campaign for the theatre when it was forced to close in April.

Although the theatre seats less than 100 people it quite often puts on shows of West End calibre at the same time as giving opportunities to young writers and directors and small companies to try out new work. Mark relaunched it as the Chiswick Playhouse last year, with Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas and actors Phyllis Logan and Kevin McNally as trustees.

They have recently reopened with a limited autumn programme and have successfully launched Saturday morning classes for young people.

The theatre is also often used by comedians to try out material either before they go on tour or before they record a television series. Jenny Eclair is trying out ‘Work in Progress’ from Thursday 15 – Saturday 17 October and Andy Parsons is appearing there on Friday 20 November.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick House awarded £308,000 from Culture Recovery Fund

See also: West London culture venues receive government money

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