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For anyone still labouring under the misapprehension that there’s something a bit amateur about am-dram, it’s worth hearing what Mike Williams has to say on the subject.

Mike, recently retired as the stage manager with the South Downe Musical Society, is clearly a passionate advocate for the area’s many excellent amateur dramatic groups.

But we’re sure people will be surprised to learn just how costly it is for these groups to stage their productions.

Today Mike reveals that it costs South Downe as much as £40,000 to put on a show, with a large bulk of that being spent on theatre hire, sets, costumes and technician’s wages.

He suspects that the public has no idea about the financial implications for these hard-working volunteers, united by their love for the bright lights of the big stage and the thrill of treading the boards.

If nothing else, it puts the £10-or-more ticket prices charged into some sort of meaningful context.

We know that these groups don’t do what they do for personal profit, but Mike has revealed why it’s so important that these groups get the support they need to survive.

In Portsmouth and beyond we are blessed by the sheer number of excellent amateur dramatic groups operating on our patch.

From the Portsmouth Players to HumDrum, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

But we all know how councils, under pressure to balance the books in these difficult times, tend to cut arts budgets ahead of other services.

We understand that challenging choices have to be made and that in turn highlights how important it is for the general public to show these flourishing societies our support.

If you’ll forgive the vernacular, it’s time to put our bums on some seats.

For a fraction of the cost charged to see a professional touring show or a big West End production, we can enjoy some truly first-class and thought-provoking entertainment right here on our own doorsteps.