When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Acts of kindness save troupe from oblivion
Buy this photo » n SAVED: From left, Creation marketing manager Charlie Morley, chief executive Lucy Askew and general manager Katie Catling. Picture: OX57649 Andrew Walmsley
MONTHS of hard work has paid off for Oxfordshire’s largest theatre company which has survived financial turmoil and come out the other side.
Creation Theatre announced that despite being on the brink of having to stop producing shows it has pulled through.
Attendance at its summer production of The Merchant of Venice was down because of poor weather and tourist numbers.
But the company raised more than £40,000 in the four months since it launched its fundraising campaign, which means it can continue to put on shows.
Newly-appointed chief executive Lucy Askew said: “The support and warmth that came so willingly from our audience over Christmas really showed how much this company means to Oxford, and we can’t wait to share our plans with everyone.
“I’m incredibly proud to be leading Creation into a brighter future.”
The £40,000 came from thousands of donations from individuals and business supporters, with the single largest gift £1,000.
The theatre company has also reduced its staff by more than half to just four, with director James Erskine leaving his post when his contract expired.
The company faced ceasing operation and making staff redundant.
Creation, which has grown to become Oxfordshire’s largest theatre producer, was founded by David Parrish after he turned his back on a career in banking.
Since its formation in 1996, Creation has made a name for itself for putting on shows in unusual and quirky setting such as the roof of the Said Business School, Blackwell’s bookshop and even the Cowley car factory.
Since the company was established, audience numbers shot up from 3,500 in 1996 to a peak of more than 50,000 in 2006.
But this has not been the first time the company has faced the prospect of shutting down. The summer rain and floods of 2007 meant it was only saved by donations after it became a charity.
Creation’s marketing manager Charlie Morley said: “It is definitely a relief.
“We went all guns blazing for our Christmas production of Aladdin and the Magical Lamp and we were fundraising at the same time.
“Our plans for the future involve reducing our risk and we will be working long term with a smaller and more experienced team.
“It is about reducing the size and scale of our performances without affecting our production budget.
“We are destined to always be nomadic, but that is part of the fun.”
The theatre is also looking into a scheme where supporters underwrite a show to prevent similar problems from happening again.