SHORT OF FUNDS: Members of Gainford Drama Group have appealed for financial assistance
SHORT OF FUNDS: Members of Gainford Drama Group have appealed for financial assistance

A DALE village drama club, unable to put on productions at their theatre because of coronavirus, have appealed for financial assistance.
Gainford Drama Club, which celebrated its 70th birthday last year, normally performs two productions a year to sell-out audiences at the Academy Theatre, in High Row. But due to coronavirus restrictions, they have been unable to stage any productions which help cover costs such as rent. In a letter to the parish council, club member Lawrence Chandler explained the club’s predicament and appealed for financial aid to ensure the club could continue.
Clerk Martin Clark said: “They have not been able to put in any plans but have enough funds for eight months. They have asked for £5,000 to give a ‘cushion to build consumer confidence’.”
Mr Clerk added the village hall had halved the rent for the theatre but the group was worried audiences would not feel comfortable coming back to watch even when productions, which cost about £2,000 to stage, are permitted again.
Cllr Richard Roff said: “I think there is an indirect subsidy with the stay of rent from the village hall because we have been supporting the hall, but not of late. Have they approached the village trust?”
Mr Clark replied: “The village hall themselves would have been able to reduce the rent because they would have been given the grant from Durham County Council.”
Cllr Simon Platten said if financial support were to be
offered more specific information needed to be included. He added: “I don’t go to the theatre but I know how many people do and it is an important part of the village life. If we are to offer financial support it does need to be something specific. If they were able to provide more supporting information it makes it a lesser ask.”
Cllr John Grundy said a way forward could be the council standing as a guarantor for the club. He added: “The council could underwrite their next production rather than as a grant.”
Cllr Sarah Platten said: “They have already got money for the next eight months so there is no immediate need.
“What we need is a grant application with flesh on the bones that says ‘this is what we need to put on a production’ and in the climate we don’t have any ideas of how many people will attend.
“I think we should encourage them to apply to the Gainford Trust, as they don’t have an awful lot of applications and have a lot of money.”
Chairwoman Cllr Lisa Johnstone said: “I would have liked to have seen some kind of idea of how they are planning to help themselves.”
Mr Clark will contact the group to ask them to submit a more substantial grant application.