The Friends of Shanklin Theatre was started in February 2008 following an announcement by the Isle of Wight Council, saying that they were considering closing the Theatre. The primary objective of the Friends is to support and maintain the Theatre for the use of the Community.
In 2008 and 2009 contact was maintained with the Council, and the Friends expressed interest in taking over the Theatre, incorporating an Arts Centre for the Bay Area, and running it as a Community Interest Group. At that time no formal proposal was put to the Council.
At the Isle of Wight Council Cabinet meeting on the 19th January 2010 the Council voted to close the Theatre at the end of March. However, the Cabinet seemed strongly in favour of making the Theatre available to a Community Group.
At the Shanklin Town Council Meeting held on 11th March the Council voted to authorise the Mayor to sign a "Licence to Occupy" for Shanklin Theatre with the Isle of Wight Council, to run from April 2010.
Despite some delays documents were exchanged between Shanklin Town Council and the Isle of Wight Council, and on Thursday 22nd April, Lynda Fleming, Mayor of Shanklin, signed the necessary paperwork for the temporary lease of the Theatre. This enabled the Theatre to be operated until the negotiations with the Isle of Wight Council were finalised.
A company, Shanklin Theatre Ltd, comprising some of the Councillors and some of the Friends, was formed to operate the Theatre. On the 23rd April the Town Council was finally able to access the building. The following Monday, the 26th April, the company took over the Theatre and the first production was staged on the 6th May.
The expenses related to the setting-up of the company were met by the Friends.
The Friends provide the mainstay of staff to run and manage the Theatre. There are over 60 regular volunteers, whose age range is from 9 to nearly 90. The volunteers run the Front of House: Box Office, usherettes, bar, sweet kiosk, and ice cream sellers. They also clean and maintain the building, so if you visit and think ‘How nice to see such clean toilets”, remember it’s one of the volunteers who did the cleaning. Without the generous assistance given by the volunteers it would not be possible to run the Theatre.
Since the re-opening of the Theatre, the Friends have produced shows, organised Prize Draws and held a bucket collection after every show which has now realised over £56,000 for the refurbishment of the Theatre, a leaflet has been produced by the friends listing all the improvements, copies are available from the theatre.
In June 2012 The Friends of Shanklin Theatre were proud to win The Queens Award For Voluntary Service.
The Friends of Shanklin Theatre always welcome help and support. Please consider becoming a Friend:
Membership is currently £10 (Adults) / £1 (under 16) annually.
Or perhaps becoming a Patron:
Individual £25.00 annually
Business £100.00 annually
It is planned to display a list of Patrons in the Theatre.
You can also support the Theatre by sponsoring a seat for £50.
Updated September 2013