Published: 17:04, 16 November 2020
| Updated: 18:27, 16 November 2020
Famous names have been showing their support for a theatre in Maidstone after a council announced it is looking to withdraw funding, leading to fears the venue's future is uncertain.
On FridayMaidstone Borough Council (MBC) confirmed the Hazlitt Theatre in Earl Street has been put under review by its Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee (ERL).
The news has sparked action from thousands including members of the public, celebrities, MPs, and councillors alike who are rallying together to protect the venue.
Margate born actress, singer, and songwriter Kate Robbins, famous for her role in Spitting Image and soap opera Crossroads, took to Twitter prompting her 51.1k followers to sign a petition urging MBC to reconsider its decision.
She said: "Can you help to keep The Hazlitt Theatre open? It’s the only theatre in Maidstone.
"I signed this petition. Would you also? Thanks"
It has so far reached more than 4,500 signatories and is calling for MBC to take the funding withdrawal option off the table.
Joining her in the fight to save The Hazlitt is comedian Russell Kane who performed his ‘Right Man, Wrong Age' tour at the venue in April 2017.
He retweeted an appeal calling for action against the closure which MP Helen Grant said could be "hugely worrying" for the town.
Fellow comedian Simon Brodkin, famously known for handing Prime Minister Theresa May a P45 during a keynote speech also retweeted the petition.
His 100% Simon Brodkin tour was one of the last shows to play at the theatre in February before lockdown hit.
A former Eastenders actor who played Prince Charming in the venue's 2017 performance of Cinderella tagged Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in his call for action.
Stefan Booth, who played Greg Jessop in the BBC1 soap, said: "Come on #UKARTS @OliverDowden. Please sign and retweet. #SaveOurTheatres #SaveTheHazlitt."
Stand up comedian Hal Cruttenden, and actress Verity Rushworth have also shared updates on the social media platform.
In October many Kent entertainment venues were given vital life support by the government, but the Hazlitt in Earl Street missed out.
On Thursday, during a private session which the public could not attend, the ERL committee gave the go-ahead for the council to consider removing the £240,000 subsidy it pays to Parkwood Theatres to run the venue.
In a statement on Friday MBC said: "We have been considering future options for many council services including the Hazlitt Theatre.
"Unfortunately, despite the positive role the theatre makes for the borough, we have had to review the way it is working due to the financial pressures that the Council is facing as a consequence and impact of Covid-19."
"The council is in discussions with Parkwood Theatres to look at the future of the Hazlitt."
The petition, started by former youth club member Amy Riley, reads: "The Hazlitt's walls have nurtured young peoples voices, housed laughter and created memories for so many others.
"The Hazlitt is a space that has paramount creativity, embraced local talent and championed itself at being a pillar in the memories of so many people who grow up and live in Maidstone.
"It would be devastating for Covid to take away something so integral to our community."
However, Parkwood bosses say they could not operate the Hazlitt without this subsidy and the move could lead to the venue's closure.
Fundraisers started to bring in vital donations to help secure its future are also gathering momentum.