SIR: As chair of Play to the Crowd (which encompasses Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair and Playmakers) I would like to share the huge gratitude of the organisation to the numerous supporters (over 2,000) who have contributed to the success of our critical Survival Appeal.

When we embarked on the Appeal in early July it was with the knowledge that the future of the charity was at significant risk. The Appeal simply had to succeed. We hoped that there might be contributions from charitable trusts and also from Arts Council England, but most important was going to be the response of the local community (and supporters from further afield who value our fantastic programme and Hat Fair Festival).

We have been hugely gratified by the level of commitment and support, with people making a range of contributions as they are able, but of which every single pound has made a difference.

Here we are now in mid-October, able to confirm that Play to the Crowd, despite immediate uncertainties around the pandemic, is safe for the foreseeable future. That success is primarily because of the loyalty, support and generosity of local people who clearly value the cultural opportunities and activity that the charity provides. Thank you one and all!

It’s also essential that the community is aware of the huge commitment and work undertaken by the charity trustees and staff to facilitate the Appeal. I’d particularly like to thank our CEO Deryck Newland for his unstinting enthusiasm, belief and sheer hard work. He would also want to join me in thanking all of you out there as well as the talented and dedicated staff team he works with.

We look forward to welcoming many of you to Theatre Royal Winchester, and to other Play to the Crowd activities, over the coming months. Hopefully it will also be over the coming years, though none of us can pre-determine where the Covid impact will have taken us in another eighteen months’ time.

David Hill,

Chairman, Play to the Crowd,

Jewry Street,