Blackpool Grand Theatre management has said the historic theatre could be closed for good as a result of the financial devastation bought about by COVID-19.
Blackpool Grand Theatre Chief Executive Ruth Eastwood said the theatre had applied for a £500,000 government grant to keep it going hoping that it might be able to put on shows come January 2021. She added though that “If social distancing is still in place we would only have 20% of our 1000 seat capacity which is just not viable”
Opened in 1894, the Blackpool Grand nearly succumbed to the bulldozers in 1972 but was saved when a charitable trust was formed to run the venue.
The venue like most other regional venues relies on box office receipts. As a result of COVID-19, the theatre has had no income since venues across the country were closed in March 2020 when the lockdown began. All tickets for cancelled shows have been refunded.
Fifty-seven staff, most of whom were furloughed during lockdown could be left redundant when that scheme ends on 31 October.
Known as the National Theatre of Variety, the Blackpool Grand was designed by renown theatre architect Frank Matcham and built for the princely sum of £20,000. Conceived and financed by Thomas Sergenson, Matcham’s brief was to build “the prettiest theatre in the land”. The Grand was the first Matcham theatre was the first of the architect’s theatres to use the innovative cantilever design to support the upper audience tiers.