Fringe Box



Arts Emergency Fund Awards Yvonne Arnaud Theatre £248,000 Lifeline

Published on: 12 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 13 Oct, 2020

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Guildford’s treasured Yvonne Arnaud theatre has been awarded £248,000 from the Arts Council England Covid Emergency Fund.

Director Joanna Read said today: “We are relieved and heartened to receive this critical support. A small staff team is doing all we can to keep the theatre alive for the future and this support will help us plan for the new year and beyond.”

Joanna Read, theatre director

The curtain fell on March 16 as the pandemic struck deep. In July, patrons were told the traditional annual pantomime would have to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. But the theatre has recently re-opened with a socially distanced auditorium as a “virus-secure” venue for some performances.

Ms Read added: “We have opened for a few one-night performances to give our audiences and local partners some live entertainment during this difficult time. But this is not a viable long-term solution.

“We expect to stay socially distanced through to April 2021. Until social distancing is lifted and insurance cover is in place in the event of lockdown, to mount our hallmark larger-scale productions will not be possible.

“This award will help us reach the moment when we can re-open fully and bring theatre back to Guildford.”

Dame Penelope Keith (second from left) was one of those who met Prince Edward when he visited the theatre in September.

Dame Penelope Keith, a renowned Arnaud patron who lives in Effingham Common, said: “I’m thrilled and delighted at this brilliant news. The theatre recently celebrated its 55th birthday and this critical support will ensure we will be here for the next 55.”

Theatre chairman Stephen Bampfylde said: “I am delighted for all those involved in working with the Yvonne Arnaud and the many supporters of the theatre in Surrey and beyond. Drama changes lives and this is just the encouragement we need to plan for an exciting future.”

As a charity, the Yvonne Arnaud receives a grant from Guildford Borough Council, but the main supporting income is from ticket sales. With social distancing, the seating capacity has been reduced to about 30%.

To find out more about the ongoing series of one-night events, or other ways you can help support the theatre, please visit

See also:

Prince Edward Visits the Yvonne Arnaud

Arts Council Grants Closed Yvonne Arnaud Theatre a £35,000 Lifeline


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