Last week I wrote about the threat to Creation Theatre Company. I don’t know why it took me so long but I have now paid up and become a friend, I may yet contribute more. It seems so that they might be light at the end of the tunnel… *crosses fingers*

Creation handed a lifeline
By Chris Walker

Oxfordshire’s largest theatre production company has received a major boost in its bid to stay afloat after receiving pledges worth £42,000.

Five anonymous donors have come forward saying they are willing to give money to Creation Theatre Company – but they are only doing it on the proviso that the theatre company raises the same amount.

A second summer of awful weather has threatened the future of the popular theatre company, which specialises in outdoor shows.

Takings are down by £140,000 this year compared with 2006, when the company last enjoyed decent summer weather.

Last week, The Oxford Times revealed that the company was launching an appeal to raise at least £60,000 to buy a canopy, roof or tent to encourage crowds to return to its outdoor performances in venues such as Oxford Castle and Headington Hill Park.

Now the Headington-based company is calling on the public to prove it wants to keep the theatre, which has played to 302,000 people since it was formed 13 years ago.

Deputy producer Nicola West said: “In effect, we have a pound-for-pound matching situation.

“Five generous supporters have said they will contribute £42,000 as long as the public matches the figure.

Now is the time for people to help us, however they are able, if they want to see us performing in the future.”

The theatre company is urging anyone who has been to a show, taken part in a workshop or believes strongly in local arts to contact them immediately so they can assure the anonymous supporters “that the people of Oxfordshire want the company to continue”.

The appeal asks people to consider what they can do to help raise the money, be it making a donation, staging a fundraising event or becoming the patron of a performance.

If the company were to fold, six permanent office staff would lose their jobs. The company also regularly employs 75 freelance actors and backstage staff.

Producer and artistic director David Parrish said: “I have been at almost all of our performances in the last two weeks to explain a little about the campaign, and the audiences have been amazingly supportive, taking donation forms and stopping to tell me how much they have loved the shows over the last 13 years.”

Creation also stages popular winter performances in its mirror tent at the BMW factory at Cowley. These would disappear if Creation went under.

The theatre, which became a charity 17 months ago, only survived a disastrous summer last year thanks to an £80,000 donation from an anonymous benefactor.