THE director of the Ringwood’s Forest Forge has spoken of her “relief” after securing funding for its autumn production.

Since the Arts Council axed its £117,000 funding in 2011, the professional theatre company, which has an annual footfall of 37,000, lead a “hand to mouth” existence, relying heavily on sponsorship, donations and grants to bring their Christmas, touring spring and autumn performances to the stage and continue their creative learning projects.

But now the company is celebrating after being awarded an Arts Council match-funded grant of £52,000 after 135 people donated £13,741 in just one week.

Forest Forge director Kirstie Davis said: “We had to raise £13,000 of match funding to have a chance of securing a £52,000 grant.

“An appeal was launched and our loyal supporters exceeded that target so we could submit the application for the grant.

“For every £10 donation given, it leveraged £40, which encouraged people to come forward and donate. I can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity; it means we can survive another year and we have some exciting projects coming up.”

For the autumn production, award-winning writer Kaite O’Reilly was commissioned to write Woman in Flowers, a play inspired by a mythical Welsh myth exploring love, freedom and re-|tribution with live music, film and just four actors.

And for the first time in the UK, Forest Forge has secured the rights for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic Stardust, which will be staged this winter.

Forest Forge will also bring an interactive performance of Hansel and Gretel for the under fives to Poole Lighthouse this Christmas.

The season will end with Leaves on a Line by Dinos Aristidou.

Ms Davis added: “We have a very busy year ahead and an eclectic mix of performances that will appeal to everybody.

“We are so excited about this season. To be allowed to adapt and perform Stardust is a real coup and we are thrilled to work with Kaite O’Reilly, who is such an international talent.”

For details about the forthcoming season, go to