Theatre forced to hold fundraiser in bid to stay open

Richard Stride
Richard Stride
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A THEATRE company says it has been forced to hold an emergency fundraiser because a bank error has left it on the brink of closure.

The Groundlings Theatre, on Kent Street, in Portsea, will be opening its doors for a fun day to recoup around £10,000 it claims to have lost in revenue after NatWest mistakenly closed its accounts.

As well as small productions by the theatre, the fundraiser will also have food, drink, stalls and other entertainment.

Richard Stride, artistic director for the Groundlings Theatre, said: ‘Our problems with the bank have got worse and we need to raise money as quickly as possible.

‘If we don’t, we will be on the brink of closure.’

As previously reported in The News, NatWest mistakenly closed the Groundlings Theatre’s bank accounts in January and Richard couldn’t access any money.

After more than six weeks since the problem began, the theatre started to lose revenue, and several shows were cancelled because it was unable to pay its advertisers.

It is now relying on social media sites and in-house posters to advertise shows.

Richard added: ‘The whole situation is getting ridiculous now.

‘I am phoning the bank every day but still nothing is being done.

‘We have lost out on around £10,000 so that is how much we are hoping to raise at the fundraiser.

‘We are opening our doors to the public and it will be a fun day.

‘Obviously, we didn’t want to resort to something like this but there is no other way we can get money.

‘We have contacted grants and other means of funding but those things take time.

‘If we do not start getting revenue soon, we will close.’

Richard is looking to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service but the investigation could take up to three months.

And for a small business like the Groundlings Theatre, a series of questions would need to be answered and paperwork filled out.

A spokesperson for the Financial Ombudsman Service said: ‘Thousands of people get in touch with the ombudsman each week asking us to resolve disputes with their bank.

‘If the theatre is unable to resolve the problem, give us a call, we may be able to help get things sorted.’

NatWest declined to comment on the problems with the Groundlings Theatre.

The fundraiser is at the theatre on Sunday, March 23.