Chester Storyhouse has announced plans to reopen its doors as early as July 4 – if allowed to by the Government.
The news comes days after its chief executive Andrew Bentley warned the arts organisation was facing an uncertain future because of the continued lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But bosses at the Hunter Street venue now say public response to the warning – including 2,000 people signing up to a Storyhouse membership scheme over the last week alone – has helped to stabilise its fortunes.
And while they have had to cancel this year’s Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, along with postponing Storyhouse’s homegrown spring productions, they have now announced plans for two open air events.
A drive-in cinema season, Moonlight Drive, will take place in Chester from early July and will sit alongside Storyhouse’s annual popular open-air cinema Moonlight Flicks.
There are also plans to turn the main theatre into a cinema until Christmas.
Artistic Director Alex Clifton said: “We’ll do what we can. If theatres aren’t going to be able to stage shows in the autumn, then we’re not going to wait. If we can’t gather people together around a stage, we’ll bring them together around a screen.
Storyhouse artistic director Alex Clifton
“We’ll open in any way we can to safely serve our community with great stories and joyful shared experiences. We’ll relentlessly pursue our mission at this time when our diverse communities need us most.”
Storyhouse also runs a wide-reaching community programme and has revealed it has been able to keep two thirds of that going online since the venue had to close its doors in March.
Clifton added: “The first moment we're able, we’ll reopen our doors to support in person – particularly our more vulnerable communities. We need to start paying back this overwhelming support in whatever way we can.
“The country is awash with some of the most creative community-led cultural organisations imaginable. But times are hard. If all our customers were to become members, we’d be secure, strong, and independent forever.”