Published: 14:18, 14 October 2020
| Updated: 14:19, 14 October 2020
Every single staff member will be made redundant at a struggling theatre after its recovery fund bid to the government was rejected.
Artistic director James Tillitt had applied for £80,000 from the £1.7billlion Cultural Recovery Fund in his bid to revive the Astor Community Theatre in Deal .
But his plea was deemed "not viable" by Arts Council England meaning six people - three full time and three part time roles - will now be axed.
The sad turn of events comes after a commendable community effort that has raised almost £35,000 in donations to keep the venue afloat.
This cash will help pay to keep the building open and pay for overheads while Mr Tillitt explores ways to "reposition" what the theatre can offer.
In the meantime, its published programme of events which includes weekly film nights, a Neil Diamond tribute and How Santa Saved Christmas pantomime from December 19-24 will continue until the end of the year, but strictly on a voluntary basis.
Speaking to KentOnline , Mr Tillitt said: "I'm still feeling particularly upset by this.
"I understood the Arts Council were prioritising smaller community venues and ones that had not received funding from them before, and we tick both boxes.
"The end of the furlough scheme at the end of the month means staff would have been laid off as I couldn't have afforded to pay them, but this money would have allowed me to hire people back on a part time basis.
"But we will survive one way or another, as long as we've got the volunteers to operate the building.
"I'm not going to give it up. I will not allow the theatre to shut when the community that use it have been so incredibly supportive."
Mr Tillitt himself will be made redundant from November 1 along with the general manager, a facilities manager, a box officer supervisor, bar manager and cleaner.
'I will not allow the theatre to shut when the community that use it have been so incredibly supportive'
Announcing the news to the Friends of the Astor yesterday, he described the team as "wonderful" and "loyal", some of which have been employed for six years.
He wrote: "With the amazing response to our most recent fundraising project, Postcards from Lockdown, combined with the Art Raffle, the soon to be announced Book Raffle and a couple of other initiatives in the pipeline, your tenacity in keeping this theatre open is remarkable. The total sum raised so far in donations is approaching £35,000.
"I am completely overwhelmed by this extraordinary gesture of confidence and support.
"I'll need to review our position again in a month or so.
"With your support we are not giving up the fight to keep the Astor alive."