JOB cuts have taken place at the charity behind Winchester’s Theatre Royal, with 25 per cent of its core team being made redundant.

The Covid-19 lockdown has had a huge impact on Play to the Crowd - the arts and education charity which also runs the Hat Fair and Playmakers, which has seen the Jewry Street theatre closed since March and had to cancel events.

Charity bosses were forced to launch a Survival Appeal in July or face closure and has so far raised £150,000.

While the funding has given the charity a lifeline it has had to make redundancies.

Chief executive Deryck Newland said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for us as a charity. Last week, following a period of consultation, we have regrettably made 25 per cent of our core team redundant.

“This has been a heart-breaking process, however it is a very sad reality that we need to downsize our operations and remodel our staff structure for us to be able to continue to operate.

“All remaining staff have also mutually agreed to a pay cut to further reduce our costs going forward. These measures, along with a successful Survival Appeal, should enable us to trade sustainably beyond October when the furlough scheme ends.”

The charity still needs help and £75,000 to reach its £225,000 target by September in order to survive beyond the Covid crisis.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with our community’s generosity and support so far. To have raised two thirds of the total we need in just over five weeks is truly extraordinary. We’ve still got a long way to go and the small team currently working, together with our board of trustees, are working flat out to secure the last £75,000,” Mr Newland said.

Play to the Crowd is set to apply for funding from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund of £1.57 billion, with £500 million given to Arts Council England to distribute.

Mr Newland said: “We will be making an application to manage ongoing risks and uncertainties around Covid-19 and any further impact for theatres and the arts, however, these funds need to stretch across a vast number of organisations and there is no guarantee that we will be successful in our application. The timeline does not help us in our Survival Appeal (applicants will be informed by 5 October) so we are full steam ahead in trying to achieve that ourselves.

“We’ve reached the milestone of £150,000 - with online and offline donations- and just need to raise the final £75,000. We know it’s tough out there but if you are able to make a donation – whatever the size – we will be extremely grateful.

“We are absolutely determined to survive this. Live performance and creative participation are absolutely vital to so many people’s well-being and positive mental health and beyond this crisis as a society we will need these activities more than ever.”

To donate to Play to the Crowd’s Survival Appeal go to