Victoria Theatre prepares for small scale shows ahead of re-opening

Calderdale’s Victoria Theatre will be able to open for a small-scale and socially distanced programme from May 17, if the road map out of the COVID-19 pandemic is followed.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 16th April 2021, 11:21 am
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 11:22 am

In her report being presented to tonight’s (Wednesday, April 14) meeting of the full Calderdale Council, Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) said although the 1,500 seat – 1,800 standing – theatre, at Fountain Street, Halifax, had been closed to the public since March 2020, a significant amount of work has been carried out to prepare it for reopening.

She said the next landmark date would be June 21 when it is hoped a programme can be followed without social distancing and other restrictions, again dependent on the Government’s road map.

“The venue is poised to re-open and has all the necessary plans and processes in place – pending approval by Public Health of the theatre’s COVID risk assessment.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

Victoria Theatre in Halifax

“The main house programme continues to be rescheduled to Autumn 2021 and into 2022, and there is a broad mix of opinion on whether the road map will be followed or not.

“The sector remains tentative and the theatre is mindful of the need to support local artistes, businesses and communities as part of Calderdale’s, and the region’s, wider economic, social and culture recovery programme.

“Customers remain loyal to the Victoria Theatre with over 90 per cent keeping their tickets for rescheduled shows and the theatre is now seeing an uptick in bookings for new performances which are going on sale regularly.

“Some customers are consciously buying memberships and also donating the cost of their tickets to the theatre to support

the venue,” she said.

Use was being made of digital working and a team of seven full time staff have continued to maintain operations through the pandemic by tasks including managing more than 100 contracts for performances, some of which have had to be moved five times in the last year, managing tickets sales and issues relating to more than 120 performances, maintaining promotional activity, managing contractors on site and supporting 16 vulnerable young people through the theatre’s Dramatherapy programme throughout lockdown.

The balance of the theatre’s team is redeployed across the council to support other services and functions, said Coun Lynn.

The venue spent considerable time and effort preparing to deliver a streamed free to access pantomime for all of Calderdale’s communities in 2020 but was stymied in delivery by the highly complex HMG rules around filming, and the venue failed to attract funding from Community Foundation For Calderdale (CFFC) to support the initiative, she added.