AN ICONIC Romsey theatre could be in danger of losing a £200,000 grant to improve the building if thousands of pounds are not raised by a drama society.

The Romsey Amateur Operatic And Dramatic Society (RAODS) are aiming to rake in £10,000 to protect their reserves for the Plaza Theatre’s Future Project.

This will see the roof extended to create a higher building as part of their £550,000 plans.

Now, a volunteer from RAODS, Kevin Cornmell, has revealed it would be “catastrophic for the people of Romsey” if the group lost the council grant by using their reserves to fund the theatre’s running costs instead. This totals £20,000 a year.

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This comes after the Plaza Theatre in Winchester Road was forced to close due to coronavirus in a bid to stop the spread of the deadly bug, meaning the theatre’s income has plummeted for months.

Romsey Advertiser: Romsey RAODS production of Cabaret at the Plaza Theatre Romsey RAODS production of Cabaret at the Plaza Theatre

Kevin, 55, said: “Our fundraiser is part of a national campaign, which was started by Theatres Trust and will run for 28 days in total to prevent UK theatres permanently closing.

“The main drive to raise this money is a couple of years ago we managed to get a Community Infrastructure Levy from Test Valley Borough Council to do some major rebuilding at the back of the theatre.

“We want to raise the stage roof so our lighting people can work above the lights and don’t have to use a ladder or scaffolding, which would be a great leap forward for health and safety.

“We are not in danger of dissolving like other theatres, but we will need our grant in a couple of years; if we keep spending our reserves to keep us going then they will go down, which means on that glorious day when we are told we have to match the grant we may not be able to.

“It would be catastrophic for the people of Romsey if we lost this grant and we are not able to improve the theatre.”

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Romsey Advertiser: Camelot the Panto at the PlazaCamelot the Panto at the Plaza

Kevin, who lives in Forest Road, Chandler’s Ford, added the theatre may not be able to perform their annual pantomime due to coronavirus, which could cost the Plaza £20,000.

He said: “We are still not sure whether we can put on our pantomime in the new year, which is a real money-spinner, and that would be a shame if we lost that because we have a very strong following for our pantomimes.”

When asked how he would feel if the theatre reached their target, Kevin said: “I would be amazed, because fundraising is incredibly hard and we are extremely grateful for any support we get from the community; we will put that money to good use.

“If we managed to hit that target that would take the pressure off us for a year.”

Kevin also said if they manage to reach £10,000 then they will look at fundraising for £20,000.

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The Plaza was built in 1931 as a 400 seat cinema, but after it closed the building was used for several years as a bingo hall, until that shutdown in the early 1980s.

The theatre was then bought for £150,000 and alterations were made to provide a 246 seat theatre.

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It has also been made available by RAODS for the community to hire, where dance schools, local societies and even tribute bands have used the Plaza.