Award-winning Exmouth youth theatre group hit in pocket by COVID-19 launches fundraising appeal after warning it will ‘run out of money’

An award-winning youth theatre group in Exmouth faces running out of funds if community help or grants cannot be found.

Centre Stage, a charity which relies on ticket sales, was hit financially when the coronavirus lockdown closed live theatre, without any idea of the venues allowed to reopen.

The theatre group has launched a Go Fund Me page, saying it will ‘simply run out of money’ if its Christmas concert cannot go ahead.

The youth theatre company, which is gearing up for its 50th anniversary, is appealing for donations to help the group pay for its monthly rent on a costume store, saying a lack of income was ‘taking its toll’.

The youth theatre group hopes to raise £5,000 through public donations.

Mark Worsley, Centre Stage president, said: “We are busy applying for grants, where we can, to boost our accounts to get us through.

“We are still paying money out monthly for our store and this is not being offset by any costumes being hired out.

“We are hopeful that our Christmas concert will go ahead if the theatres open.

“We have to be honest in saying that if this doesn’t happen, we will simply run out of money.

“Our plan is to keep applying for money and to appeal to our local and wider community to crowdfund to help us through.

“We all remain positive and look forward to our fiftieth anniversary but we need a ‘Plan B’ if theatres remain closed.”

When COVID-19 caused the UK to go into lockdown, Centre Stage postponed its planned performance of West Side Story until at least next year.

The charity relies on ticket sales to continue so was hit by a loss of income when in March all UK theatres were closed until further notice when the Government announced lockdown.

Mr Worsley said: “Our talented young performers work exceptionally hard to deliver great shows.

“It would mean so much to our members if the local community could support us with a donation.”

Centre Stage began in 1971 and since then has put on a musical each year.

The aim of the group is to build the confidence, self-esteem and maturity of young people, and give them the chance to belong to a company of like-minded people.

Former members have gone on to study at theatre schools including Bristol Old Vic, Mountview, and Guildford School of Acting, with some pursuing successful careers in the West End and national theatres.

Donate to Centre Stage’s Go Fund Me page here.

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