Wet weather threatens Oxford theatre company’s next summer season

Oxford-based Creation Theatre is at risk of cancelling next year’s summer season if this year’s weather and ticket sales fail to improve.

The theatre company is £13,000 down on ticket sales for July, compared to the same time last year.

It is halfway through its summer season production, The Merchant of Venice, which is staged outside.

The theatre, which would usually expect to see over 12,000 customers from the middle of July to the start of September, has lost around 6% of its audience members so far.

Marketing and sales director Cheryl Pearce explained how the wet weather has deterred customers from booking tickets: “We are really suffering because of the bad weather, even though we can move the show indoors. People want to see the production in its original setting of the amphitheatre. They are holding off and waiting to see what the weather is doing before booking tickets.”

Although not at risk of closure, next year’s summer show might be in jeopardy if the theatre fails to close the gap in ticket sales in August, added Pearce.

Creation Theatre is a charity and relies on 65% of its money from ticket sales with the rest being made up by donations.

Producer and chief executive James Erskine is making a nightly appeal to audience members for contributions, while an anonymous trust has offered to double any donations made before September.

Creation Theatre’s development manager Rebecca de la Bedoyere said: “An anonymous trust has shown enormous confidence in the quality and impact of our work by offering to match donations made by the public, making every penny worth twice as much.

“So far we have raised £11,237, towards our immediate critical target of £15,000, but we hope to exceed this and raise at least £20,000 by the end of August so that we have a safety net in case the weather doesn’t improve and sales remain slow.”

This follows a string of art festival closures earlier this summer, including Chester’s Vaudeville Weekend, that cited poor weather as the reason for cancellation.

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