Stay connected

Issue 331 – A new chapter for Merlin Theatre

FROME’S Merlin Theatre, which has had all its funding cut by both Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council, is fighting back to safeguard its future.

Director at the Merlin, Claudia Pepler said, “Because of these cuts we were unsuccessful in our recent bid to the Arts Council. This has had a devastating effect on the theatre, and in common with many arts organisations across the UK, we are planning a new way forward.
“The Board of Trustees have been working hard to restructure in order to safeguard the theatre’s future and find new ways of delivering the most valuable parts of the programme, including our excellent community work and our work with young people, plus our professional programme.”
Cath James, Merlin chair said, “The Merlin is so close to people’s hearts, and it’s very important to the town’s ecology, therefore we are doing everything we can, including having to make some really tough decisions, to keep this vital resource alive and thriving.
“To move us into a new era, the theatre re-launched its ‘friends scheme at July’s Artisan market and we now have an online giving option on our website. Audience members are also able to make an instant donation when purchasing tickets over the phone.”
The theatre continues to keep audiences entertained and is planning a new season of attractions. Cath James continued, “Audiences will be excited by our current shows which include a ‘local bands night’ on Sunday 7th August in the ECOS Amphitheatre and the Merlin Theatre Young Company’s production of ‘Fame’ on 25th to 27th August. Our new season’s brochure will be launched in September along with our official fundraiser.”
Claudia Pepler says she is very excited about the new autumn season. Highlights include the return of mask theatre company Vamos, plus comedians Reginald D Hunter and Phil Cool. You can also enjoy Vienna Festival Ballet’s ‘The Nutcraker’ and the Merlin Theatre Company’s Christmas production of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’.
Claudia said, “People are asking how they can help. Keep buying tickets to see our wonderful programme of events, join our youth drama and dance groups, tell people how wonderful we are, and remember how very, very fortunate Frome is to have such a precious professional theatre right on its doorstep!
“You could also become a patron or friend, advertise your business in our programme, donate money, sponsor a show or offer your services as a volunteer – we are looking for help with marketing, graphic design, technical work, finance and box office.
“This is a new and exciting chapter for the Merlin and I am confident that we can still offer the community what we know it wants – a community theatre with a professional programme.” “