THEATRE Royal Winchester is edging closer to survival – but still needs £45,000.

Last month Play to the Crowd, the charity behind the theatre and Hat Fair, launched its emergency appeal.

It has now raised more than £180,000 and fundraisers are working flatout to secure the final donations needed by September 25.

Deryck Newland, chief executive, said: "Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our Survival Appeal – we’ve been overwhelmed with our community’s generosity and messages of support so far.

"The small team currently working, together with our Board of Trustees, are working flat out to secure the last £45,000 – we are edging that little bit closer to our target each day. Thank you.

"We have now also submitted an application to the DCMS Cultural Recovery Fund – the £1.57 billion support package announced by the government.

"Arts Council England will be administrating this fund and have been given £500 million to distribute for the arts. If we are successful in our application the funds will help to manage ongoing risks and uncertainties around Covid 19, particularly pertinent as we’ve had to take the decision to postpone panto until next year.

"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."

Donations to Play to the Crowd’s Survival Appeal can be made via its Crowdfunder page, via cheque (made payable to Play to the Crowd) and sent to Theatre Royal Winchester, Jewry Street, SO23 8SB or by calling Theatre Royal Winchester’s Box Office on 01962 840 440.

For further information contact Kirstie Mathieson, communications and development director