In the midst of a pandemic, it is a tough time for venues and theatres. With no shows and no obvious source of income, there is still a building to run and keep safe. It can be an expensive business.
But if that sounds gloomy, there has been some good news to brighten the day for the Regal Theatre in Minehead.
The theatre is entirely run by volunteers under their banner of ‘For the Community, By the Community’. The Regal reckon they get a total of 70,000 hours a year from their volunteers. A contribution worth at a minimum around £200,000 per annum. Quite some effort.
When there isn’t a pandemic on they run a varied programme which including theatre, ballet, opera, concerts, films and live screenings. The hard work of the volunteers enables the theatre to present around 150 events to audiences totalling some 25,000 a year.
These days this is no trivial matter and among the other things the volunteers have done is:
- manage, maintain and run the Regal building to meet rigorous security and health and safety standards
- operate the advanced technology of a new GDPR compliant ticketing system on the box office
- administering the Friends of the Regal scheme, with more than 1,500 members,
- looking after the Regal Film Society, which is one of the largest film societies in the country with nearly 600 members,
- producing and distributing regular publicity material and newsletters.
Why am I telling you all this? The Regal Theatre’s volunteers have just been honoured by being awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is the equivalent of an MBE for an individual. Created in 2002 the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. Recipients are announced each year to mark the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Regal Theatre chair Victoria Thomas was delighted by the news “This really is a great honour and comes at a time when it is most needed. We will need all the goodwill and support of this special community to help us get back on our feet and the Queen’s Award will undoubtedly give us a terrific boost.“