FOREST Forge Theatre in Ringwood has received £55,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

It is a centre for self-producing professional live theatre in the region providing services to venues, schools and the community for 40 years.

The pandemic has resulted in the theatre being unable to generate income from productions, participation groups, workshops and venue hires for more than a year.

Forest Forge Theatre CEO and creative producer, Sharon Lawless, said: “We are all over the moon to have received this vital funding thanks to Arts Council England. We have worked tirelessly during the lockdown to keep Forest Forge active, supporting our local community through very successful online theatre courses and workshops which will, of course, continue.

"This amazing award will ensure we can re-open and kick off at the very top of our game with outdoor work in the New Forest at the end of July. We can’t wait to be back doing what we love, inspiring and engaging with our communities through the power of live theatre."

The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced. Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, added “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work."

"We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

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