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Market Drayton's Festival Centre welcomes government arts funding and hopes to reopen coffee shop within weeks

By Rory Smith | Market Drayton | North Shropshire entertainment | Published:

A community facility in Market Drayton has welcomed the potential of coronavirus relief funding and hopes to start a phased reopening within weeks.

Festival Drayton Centre

Managers at the Festival Drayton Centre said even the smallest slice of the government's £1.57 billion arts support package would be "hugely beneficial" and help secure the centre's future.

The venue on Frogmore Road is completely self-sufficient but has seen its income streams run dry following the introduction of lockdown, which meant it had to close its coffee shop, cinema, room hire and live events programme.

Robin Edwards, manager, said they are looking at ways to reopen parts of the centre as soon as possible.

She said: "The government's funding to the arts sector would be absolutely huge to us. It would be really well received.

"The details aren't exactly clear and we don't know what or how much we're entitled to, but anything at all would be hugely beneficial.

"We are self-sufficient and have to generate all of our own income, so anything we can be granted is so important to help us remain sustainable going forward – it would give us the support and backbone we need to move on."

Robin added the coffee shop, which is the biggest money maker for the centre, is the first facility hoping to reopen.

"Due to the wide range of people we have through the doors, a lot being in the vulnerable bracket, we're being really cautious about how and when we reopen," Robin said. "But we've had lots of support from people understanding the situation we're in.

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"I believe the easiest thing [to reopen] would be the coffee shop. Hopefully that'll be the first thing we start to layout and I think we do know what to put in place. I'd like to hope in the next few weeks our coffee shop could reopen.

"It would be completely different to usual, with a limited capacity and skeleton volunteers, but it would be nice to get that atmosphere back and start to welcome people in."

Despite hopes of reopening part of the centre soon, the programme of live events is set to remain on hold until next year.

Robin said: "It's safe to say our live events programme for the rest of the year is under constant review. I can't see with the rules and regulations that we'll have anymore live events this year – although I hope I'm wrong.

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"They're the icing on the cake for us here, we love a Friday and Saturday night, but we're also very aware that with social distancing, we just can't fill an auditorium with a live show.

"We've done some re-jigging and we're trying our absolute hardest to reschedule rather than cancel so we're hoping come next year, people won't miss out."

Robin added: "Throughout the last four months things have been a bit rocky, but the support we've had from local people, customers and volunteers has been amazing.

"Although it's been really tough, we know we've got the support of the people and that's so important for us. We appreciate it and we know when we reopen that our relationship with the community is already there and I'm sure they will continue their incredible support."

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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