ONE of Oxford’s best known theatre companies has just months to raise thousands of pounds or it will effectively cease to exist.
Since its formation in 1996 Creation Theatre has made a name for itself with its quirky, outdoor settings.
But attendances at the company’s summer production of The Merchant of Venice were significantly down because of the poor weather.
This has left the St Clement’s-based theatre company looking for £50,000 by the end of the financial year in order to survive.
Geoffrey Bryant, chair of Creation’s board of trustees, said: “As a charity we cannot trade without sufficient funds.
“Our Christmas show will go ahead and we have robust plans to deliver an exciting artistic programme for 2013 whilst undertaking significant cost savings, but in order to put these plans into action we must raise £50,000 this year.
“We are seeking funding from various streams and are appealing to the people of Oxfordshire, business leaders and anyone who values culture in Oxford, to get in touch.
“Our immediate priority is securing donations, and we are also eager to talk to individuals and companies about underwriting future projects, offering services, and support in kind.”
June was Oxfordshire’s wettest on record, with 149mm of rain compared to just 46.7mm on average.
July saw 91.6mm of rain compared with an average of 53.5mm while August saw nearly 30mm more rainfall than usual.
As a result the company was £30,000 down on what it takes during an average year.
Creation’s commercial director, Lucy Askew, said: “We have significantly cut this year’s spending in order to give ourselves a fighting chance of survival.
“Core staffing has been reduced by 58 per cent and the remaining team of five is covering the work of 12 people by working additional hours without pay and sacrificing time off.”
Creation is Oxfordshire’s largest theatre producer and was founded by David Parrish after he turned his back on a career in banking.
It has staged performances on the city’s rooftops, in its parks and shops, and even in the Cowley car factory.
And in 10 years audience numbers have rocketed from 3,500 in 1996 to more than 50,000 in 2006.
The company works towards pocketing nearly £200,000 from its summer performance, which allows it to pays its costs and put something away for the next season.
Rebecca de la Bedoyere, Creation’s development manager, said: “The trustees are very concerned about going into a new financial year in a situation where we are insolvent so they are not willing to take the risk of producing any more shows next year.
“If we didn’t raise the money we would essentially go into hibernation. No work would be produced and any staff left would be made redundant.
“We might be able to continue our education work with one member of staff but there would be no other work going on.”
Despite the financial woes, Creation says its Christmas show will go ahead as planned.
The production of Aladdin and the Magical Lamp at the North Wall Arts Centre in Summertown, starts on Thursday, December 6, and runs for about a month.
Tickets cost between £13.50 and £25 and are available from creationtheatre.co.uk.
To make a donation, or offer any other help, call 01865 761393 or email helpcreation@ creationtheatre.co.uk