Audiences will be welcomed back to the Assembly Hall Theatre in Royal Tunbridge Wells when the venue reopens on 17th October, making it one of the first theatres to open in the UK!
Measures will be in place to ensure that visitors are able to enjoy performances safely in line with any applicable government guidelines about social distancing.
Councillor Jane March, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development said: ‘By reopening the theatre we’re taking another very important step in support of the local economy. In normal times the theatre brings around 100,000 people to the town each year who all have a positive impact on local business. Obviously audience numbers won’t be anywhere near this but there will still be a recovery boost for the local economy
‘It will cost us money to reopen but we are confident that we can do this without increasing the subsidy the theatre receives as we expect to use some of our grant from the Local Government Support Fund.’
Theatre Director, JJ Almond said: ‘It is hugely exciting to be able to give people good news about the theatre. It will be different but I am confident that audiences will have a great experience.
‘We will announce the new programme from 21 September but I can give a hint here and say we have events with local partners and household names in the line up, and a new residency to announce.’
New safety measures in the theatre are expected to include reduced capacity in the auditorium with a maximum of 350 pre-booked seats for a performance. All ticket sales will be online. Cash sales at the bar won’t be possible but drinks can be pre-ordered. One-way systems will help people find their way through the theatre.
The Council-owned theatre closed its doors in line with government guidance on 17th March and was being used as a distribution depot for welfare parcels for shielded and vulnerable households during lockdown.
Theatre staff are currently furloughed and will be returning to work in a phased manner from this week in order to prepare the venue for reopening and to deliver the annual ice rink.
The reopening of the theatre is the latest move in the reopening of Council facilities following the reopening of sports centres and community centres in recent weeks.