Press release (7/8/2015)

Exciting times at the Bethel as grants help the Players soar to a new level.

£71000 in new funding is confirmed

There is a barely-disguised buzz of excitement among the Lowestoft Players these days as they anticipate the whole suite of crucial changes that are now underway at the small 200-seat Players Theatre that is now their home and main performance venue in Battery Green. The proposed changes, at a total cost of £71,000, include major upgrades to stage and auditorium light and sound systems, better facilities for the disabled including specialised auditorium seating, some replacement external windows and doors, a more robust and speedy rear exit, expanded backstage facilities for performers, repairs to the fabric of the building and improvements to its energy efficiency. All of this adds up to a vital ‘next step’ in transforming the capability of the building.

The bulk of the funding required for this is provided through a £50,000 grant from WREN’s FCC Community Fund*.  This magnificent WREN grant will be supplemented with significant contributions to lighting and sound systems from Awards for All England, from The Geoffrey Watling Charity in Norwich, and from the Adnams Charitable Trust as well as donations from the Lowestoft Players Membership itself.

WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants for community projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Peter Cox, managing director of WREN said: “WREN makes a difference to people’s lives by awarding grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK. We’re delighted to support the Lowestoft Players and their valuable work in transforming a little-used but much loved local building into a true community hub”.  In announcing and welcoming this huge achievement, Nick Garrod, the Players’ Chair of Directors praised the generosity of the four main funders and stressed just how crucial these funds would be in realising the potential of the building as a community asset.

The Players and their History: the Lowestoft Players have contributed to the cultural life of Lowestoft for almost 50 years, carrying off a whole succession of Awards in Amateur Dramatics from one end of this period to the other. Once a small common-interest group, now a Registered Charity**, their aim recently has been to transform their new home in the Fishermens Bethel into a venue in which local groups of all types and abilities can meet, socialise and perform. They have achieved this in stages. When the Players first bought the Bethel as their new Home in 2009, they were able to pay for and complete the essential works themselves (rewiring, replumbing; 2010-2011). Raising the capability of the building to the point where the first theatrical productions were possible was a little harder and costlier but this key step in any theatre’s life was in fact achieved quite locally from a wide range of sources (£4000 for theatre seating in 2012 and £6700 for basic stage lighting in 2013).

Fig 1. First steps ---seating and basic lighting----in the Lowestoft Players Project ‘from Bethel to Theatre’: the auditorium readied for Christmas Spectacular in December 2012

As the facilities improved, external groups, ----performers and non-performers alike, ----were welcomed in, to the point where 20 of these groups now use or propose to use the building, including those (both juveniles and adults) with disabilities and learning difficulties. The words of Stephen Baker, the Chief Executive of Waveney District Council perfectly sum up the achievement to date and the firm intent for the future:  ‘The venue has quickly established itself as a key community hub ... and the Players wish to enhance their role within the community by purchasing their own equipment and developing further the existing building. In view of this I have absolutely no hesitation in supporting their bid’.

The ‘jump’ to the next level:  With the first shows under their belt, the business of jumping to the next step in the capability of the building has occupied the Players’ thoughts for the past couple of years. Understandably, the sort of technical support and amenity that a whole complex of user-groups might need lay far above the basic level and far beyond a basic cost. For a while, the wish list seemed endless; but now to the great benefit of the Players and all of our user-groups, the £71,000 cost of these works has been achieved and between this summer and next spring, a start will be made in implementing them.

So the excitement is explained. Though there will always be a place in the Players schedule to mount large-scale productions at the Marina Theatre close by, including their impressive annual Panto, the huge total raised by these grants will mean that from this summer, the Players can stage even the largest musicals, together with a sizeable band of musicians, on stage in their own small Players Theatre.

Players Theatre Exterior 1_[med res].jpg

Fig 2. The Fishermens Bethel, Battery Green begins its transformation to the Players Theatre

The ‘jump to the next level’ will have been achieved, and in anticipation, celebration and illustration of this fact, we show here the first early production-shots from the musical Grease to be staged at the Players Theatre from 11-19 September. They don’t come much bigger than that! Book now, both to see this show and to learn how the venue has changed to accommodate it. Both are magnificent achievements.

Lowestoft Players_GREASE 1[med res].jpg

Fig 3, The cast of Grease celebrate the new funding and hence the new capability of their Players Theatre, to an appreciative backstage audience of Lowestoft Players, July 2015

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EDITORS NOTES:
WREN is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, conservation and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund. Since 1998, WREN has granted over £200m to more than 7,000 projects which benefit people living within 10 miles of a FCC Environment landfill site. For more information please visit
www.wren.org.uk  or contact Sarah Gosling on 07920 046832.

 http://www.wren.org.uk/furniture/logo.png

https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/england/awards-for-all-england

http://www.geoffreywatling.org.uk/docs/Guidelines.pdf

http://adnams.co.uk/about/the-adnams-charity/

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For up-to-the-minute news on the Lowestoft Players and the development of their Players Theatre, see http://www.lowestoftplayers.co.uk or https://www.facebook.com/theplayerstheatreatthebethel?ref=bookmarks

*contact details are:  The Players Theatre, Battery Green, Lowestoft, NR32 1DE Suffolk, tel 01502 563 614.  Registered Charity number 1130421. Registered Address: The Lowestoft Players Ltd 12, Grove Road, Lowestoft NR32 1EB, Suffolk. Email georgina.warren@live.co.uk