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Quay Theatre in Sudbury full of optimism for 2022 after post-lockdown resurgence



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This time last year, Sudbury’s Quay Theatre faced an uncertain future, as the performing arts world was at a standstill – but, after a huge post-lockdown resurgence, the venue enters 2022 with enormous optimism.

The landmark theatre in Quay Lane says it has been delighted by the way audiences have returned in such strong numbers, after ramping up its programme of productions as Covid restrictions eased last year.

After many months of closure, performances started back up again in May at a specially-created outdoor marquee on the Quay jetty, before indoor shows resumed in August.

The Quay Theatre in Sudbury for a feature..PICTURED: Joe Fawcett (Technical Manager), Andrew Hingston (Accountant), Sharon Buckle (Theatre Manager), Theresa Munson (Theatre Admin) and Mitchell Gardiner (Publicity)...Pictured by Mecha Morton.... (54201195)
The Quay Theatre in Sudbury for a feature..PICTURED: Joe Fawcett (Technical Manager), Andrew Hingston (Accountant), Sharon Buckle (Theatre Manager), Theresa Munson (Theatre Admin) and Mitchell Gardiner (Publicity)...Pictured by Mecha Morton.... (54201195)

A £40,000 fundraising appeal, in response to the projected shortfall in income, was also launched last summer, while the board of trustees began a recruitment drive to help the venue navigate the post-Covid landscape.

Sharon Buckler, Quay Theatre manager, said they will be “forever grateful” for the support shown by the community, suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic had encouraged more people to look closer to home for trips out and things to do.

“We’ve been doing really well,” she told the Free Press. “We’re very optimistic because, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s the amount of support we have in the community.

The Quay Theatre in Sudbury for a feature..PICTURED: Joe Fawcett (Technical Manager), Andrew Hingston (Accountant), Sharon Buckle (Theatre Manager), Theresa Munson (Theatre Admin) and Mitchell Gardiner (Publicity)...Pictured by Mecha Morton.... (54201198)
The Quay Theatre in Sudbury for a feature..PICTURED: Joe Fawcett (Technical Manager), Andrew Hingston (Accountant), Sharon Buckle (Theatre Manager), Theresa Munson (Theatre Admin) and Mitchell Gardiner (Publicity)...Pictured by Mecha Morton.... (54201198)

“We’ve had new people come through the door as well, which has been the surprising aspect of reopening.

“I think some of that is the idea of localisation. When you’re unsure of what’s going on, you want to go somewhere local rather than planning a trip to London, and I think that’s being reflected in ticket sales.

“We’ve found turnouts have been slightly less than before, and people leave it to the last minute to book, which makes it nail biting, but because a lot of shows have been rescheduled, we’ve brought a lot of people who bought tickets for the original date with us.

“The fundraising appeal has been really great. We set a target, which we’ve not met, but people have been very generous in general. We also now have four new trustees with theatre and business backgrounds.”

Despite Sudbury Dramatic Society’s decision to cancel its Christmas pantomime in December, Sharon stated that the Omicron variant of Covid had not had much of an impact on attendances.

However, she added that plans are being implemented, in the event that restrictions are reintroduced by the Government.

“Going forward, we plan for the best case scenario, but we also have to have contingencies in place,” she said. “If new regulations come in, we have to look at how we will react to that.

“We have to prepare for the possibility of another variant and, if it’s more severe, there may be new restrictions.

“We’re very hopeful with the way things are going and the response we have had. We’re still encouraging mask wearing and we don’t hand out physical tickets any more, but people are getting used to it.”

The Quay Theatre has recently published its spring programme, while the board of trustees is still looking for a new member with financial and accounting experience.

For additional information, go online to www.quaysudbury.com.