VANDALS defaced Christchurch’s Regent Centre with graffiti as it prepares to reopen for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown following a major £350,000 renovation.
The charity-run theatre in High Street was targeted around midnight on Sunday 20th September, with tags sprayed on side doors.
Police are appealing for information to help track down the offenders. No arrests have yet been made.
CCTV footage captured two male suspects in the alleyway which runs alongside the theatre around 12.15am that morning.
A police post on social media said: “Officers are investigating a report of criminal damage to The Regent Centre, High Street, Christchurch.
“CCTV has identified two males attending the alleyway next to the charity-run theatre at 00.15hrs on Sunday 20th September 2020.
“Investigations are ongoing but we are keen to know if anyone has any information regarding these ‘tags’.”
The graffiti tagging came just over a month before the theatre is due to welcome audiences back having been closed since lockdown was first imposed in March.
As reported in the A&T, the summer saw renovators complete a project inspired by the 1930s which has been hailed as the most significant restoration in the theatre’s 89-year history.
The new decorative scheme throughout the auditorium, foyer and staircases was undertaken by BCP Council which tendered for the work.
Improvements have also been made to the cinema sound system, auditorium lighting and the stage during the closure.
Responding to vandalism, general manager Matthew Vass-White said: “Whilst it’s not great to receive a calling card like this, the police have been great and we’re very much focused on getting the inside of the building ready for our customers.”
The Regent Centre is set to reopen for film screenings from November with a range of new Covid-safe measures in place including socially distanced seating, enhanced cleaning and new equipment.
Those with information about the vandalism should contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 55200143153, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Regent Centre funding boost
THE Regent Centre is among 42 independent cinemas across the country to benefit from £650,000 in government funding to help them continue throughout the pandemic.
It is receiving a £5,292 share of the handout from the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas.
The money being distributed is the first tranche of funding from a £30m pot allocated by the British Film Institute on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Further funds were set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We all enjoyed the escapism of a good film during lockdown, but nothing beats the experience of the big screen.
“This first wave of emergency funding will help dozens of independent cinemas around the country, preserving their unique character and history for future generations.”