Coronavirus: Plea from Portsmouth pubs, theatres and venues in 'staff survival fund'

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Pubs, theatres and venues feeling the pinch as people stay away have turned to novel ideas to keep business afloat.

Leisure hotspots have now been closed due to the fear of spreading coronavirus.

Groundlings Theatre in Old Portsmouth is asking people to consider not taking a refund for postponed shows but instead keeping the credit for future dates.

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In a livestream session on Facebook, The Kings Theatre’s creative director Jack Edwards said 'everything after April is business as usual at the moment' at the Albert Road venue in Southsea.

Paul Woolf at the Kings Theatre, Portsmouth. Picture: Roger Arbon/Solent News & Photo AgencyPaul Woolf at the Kings Theatre, Portsmouth. Picture: Roger Arbon/Solent News & Photo Agency
Paul Woolf at the Kings Theatre, Portsmouth. Picture: Roger Arbon/Solent News & Photo Agency | Other 3rd Party

He praised people who have donated to the theatre, which is a registered charity.

The theatre has gone through a deep clean so it is prepared to open when it can.

Paul Woolf, chief executive, said the theatre is going through a ‘difficult time’ and is carrying out an 'enormous' amount of work. He asked people to consider leaving payments with the theatre so it can keep the cash in its bank instead of a refund.

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Mr Woolf said: 'The heart-wrenching side of this has been the impact on the people who have supported us, the casual staff, the volunteers and our staff.

The Kings Theatre, Albert Road, Southsea
Picture: Habibur RahmanThe Kings Theatre, Albert Road, Southsea
Picture: Habibur Rahman
The Kings Theatre, Albert Road, Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman | JPIMedia Resell

'That's been very, very challenging.

'Obviously without income we can't run the theatre, it is difficult.'

But he added: 'We've been working hard together over the last week.'

There are 'contingency plans' in place all producers have agreed to reschedule.

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Looking to set up a little pub at home for isolation? We even have some cocktail kits if you fancy trying your hand at some cocktail inventions.

Well you can grab some glasses,beer mats and kits for that authentic feel while also supporting our staff here at LJR

Stick whatever cash you can afford in the pot to help our crew get through. It will all go to our hourly paid staff.

Picture: The Lord John Russell/Chris VauxLooking to set up a little pub at home for isolation? We even have some cocktail kits if you fancy trying your hand at some cocktail inventions.

Well you can grab some glasses,beer mats and kits for that authentic feel while also supporting our staff here at LJR

Stick whatever cash you can afford in the pot to help our crew get through. It will all go to our hourly paid staff.

Picture: The Lord John Russell/Chris Vaux
Looking to set up a little pub at home for isolation? We even have some cocktail kits if you fancy trying your hand at some cocktail inventions. Well you can grab some glasses,beer mats and kits for that authentic feel while also supporting our staff here at LJR Stick whatever cash you can afford in the pot to help our crew get through. It will all go to our hourly paid staff. Picture: The Lord John Russell/Chris Vaux | Other 3rd Party

In a series of tweets, the New Theatre Royal said: ‘New Theatre Royal has been in the heart of Portsmouth for over 160 years and now, more than ever, we need your help.’

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Theatre bosses have asked people to buy pantomime tickets or pay £25 to become an NTR friend to ‘make a difference to our survival’.

Staff added: ‘If you require a refund for a show due to take place in the next few weeks, and are in a position to do so, we kindly ask you to consider donating the cost of your ticket.’

Councillor Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for culture and city development, said: ‘We are committed to supporting residents and businesses during this difficult time.’

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Speaking before the outright closure was announced on Friday night, Chris Vaux, owner of The Lord John Russell, said his 11 staff have had their hours cut back and he is having to throw thousands of pounds worth of out-of-date stock.

He has been advertising ‘cocktail kits,’ beer mats and glasses for sale. The pot for the cash says ‘staff survival kit’. All payments at the bar are taken via contactless.

He wants to inject some lightheartedness into the situation but is facing uncertainty and said: ‘We don’t know if we’re going to be open from one day to the next.

‘We’ve lost thousands already this week.’

Chris said: ‘The most important thing is that we’re part of the community and hopefully if we get through this we’ll still be here and people can support us after we’ve supported them.’