The Royal and Derngate in Northampton has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to secure its future, as it remains closed due to Covid-19.
The theatre is asking audiences to make advance bookings for its pantomime or other shows later this year, become annual members or donate to protect it against the "devastating impact" of coronavirus.
The theatre makes almost 90% of its income through ticket sales, and said the "immediate and unanticipated loss" of this money had caused an unprecedented challenge. It also revealed that 85% of its 230 staff members have been furloughed.
The Help Bring Us Back Together campaign is being launched to mark the theatre’s 136th birthday, showcasing the ways in which audiences can help support its future.
These include donating the cost of cancelled tickets rather than refunding them, booking for shows later in the year, buying vouchers for gifts and becoming a year-long member.
Artistic director James Dacre said: "At Royal and Derngate, we’ve always been proud to be a place where communities come together. As we emerge from the current crisis, our role in bringing people together to share stories will be more important than ever. Whether that’s the thousands of artists and local people we champion on our stages every year, or the young and marginalised people whose talent we help develop."
Chief executive Jo Gordon added: "We are very aware that there are many people in need across the town and county at this difficult time, but we hope that more people might now consider making a donation to help bring us back together, when it’s safe to do so. We have an awful lot to look forward to."
The Royal and Derngate’s fundraising appeal comes as another major producing venue, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, falls into administration due to financial difficulties triggered by coronavirus.