Plans for a major fundraising initiative for the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds have been shelved, it has just been announced.
Colin Blumenau, the venue’s Artistic Director, had planned an ambitious challenge of riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats, via Bury St Edmunds. En-route Blumenau was due to visit famous Georgian sites along the 1,200 mile journey to reflect the theatre’s own Georgian history.
The theatre had hoped to have raised around £150,000 from the event and, at the launch, Bluemenau said:
“I have had the privilege of being Artistic Director of this extraordinary theatre for 14 years and, throughout that time, we have struggled to make exciting artistic choices against a backdrop of reducing finances.
Whilst I may not be able to change Government policy, or magic a tax incentive for giving, I can ride horses. And so I am bringing that skill and a passion for seeing the length of the UK from the saddle, as my offer to the long-term support of this theatre.”
The fundraiser was scheduled to take place this spring but, in a statement released by the theatre, the venue has decided not to go ahead with the challenge, citing difficulties in finding major sponsorship for the project.
Despite nine months of planning, the venue felt that the pressures on donations posed to great a risk to continue.
Simon Daykin, Chief Executive of the venue explains:
“It has been Colin’s long held ambition to ride this endurance route, and both he and his horses were primed and ready for the challenge. However, our strong sense is that the country’s financial health is not robust enough to provide the level of funds envisaged; we just cannot take on additional risk when we have to concentrate all our resources on trying to thrive in these straightened times. “
The venue is the only surviving working Regency Playhouse in the UK and the only theatre in the National Trust’s portfolio. The theatre currently raises around £200,000 towards its work a year through other fundraising and sponsorship schemes but faces a £7,590 a year reduction in its Arts Council funding from 2012.
It’s facing up to these challenges that Daykin now believes the theatre needs to concentrate:
“We are very saddened that we have to ask Colin to unsaddle his steeds and bring the project to a close, but we have to be realistic. It’s now essential that we redouble our attentions on our core work as a quality producing theatre.”