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Lockdown forces refurbished Regent Centre to push back its reopening

The Regent Centre was due to open for film screenings on 12th November
The Regent Centre was due to open for film screenings on 12th November

THE scheduled reopening of The Regent Centre in Christchurch following a major £350,000 refurbishment has been put back due to the country’s second lockdown.

The High Street venue was due to open for film screenings on 12th November after completion of the renovation, which started back in June. The venue now plans to open 4th December.

Regent manager Matthew Vass-White said: “We’re well versed now in moving events around, as our customers are in being moved!

“The main impact for us is that the release dates for new films will be pushed back further, meaning there are fewer new films to screen.

“But we know from our initial on-sale period that there is still confidence in cinema-going, so we’re just going to need to find inventive ways to programme the venue for a little while.”

As well as new film releases, the Regent will be showing movies from the 1940s through to last year.

Theatre staff and volunteers recently undertook training courses certified by the UK Cinema Association to keep themselves and their customers safe during the pandemic.

Mr Vass-White told the A&T: “We will be operating at a budget deficit until a national solution is found and we very much appreciate the support of our customers who continue to purchase tickets, buy gift vouchers and make donations with us.”

Forest Forge Theatre Co in Ringwood is also suffering a financial loss, and while it re-opened on 30th September and was getting back on its feet with the launch of adult and youth theatre groups, lockdown has forced another temporary closure.

These classes have moved online, but the planned Christmas show, which brings in significant income for the venue, would be cancelled in the event of an extended lockdown.

Drama groups would also be unable to produce their own shows, meaning a further loss of income from ticket sales.

Sharon Lawless, CEO and creative producer at Forest Forge, said: “Reopening the theatre after the first lockdown was a fantastic feeling, and we and our participants have loved being back in the building safely.

“However, we always knew there was a risk of a second lockdown and so have planned and prepared for this in our programming.”

She continued: “We will continue to reach out to our communities and local artists to offer the support we know will be greatly needed during this second lockdown.

“Above all, what we do greatly aids mental health and wellbeing, and we will continue to do all we can to help those that benefit from our work.

“We have suffered and continue to suffer a financial loss during these challenging times, and this second wave will throw another shadow of uncertainty over our future.

“Our passionate team will continue to work hard to keep the theatre alive and we welcome any kind donations and support to help us through."

Forest Forge is currently planning a fundraising campaign, and will continue to offer a range of online courses, including a writers group and improvisation course.

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