A grant application by The Stag Community Arts Centre for £220,000 has been partially successful after Sevenoaks Town Council voted last night (29/06) to provide funds in a wave of tranches starting with £65,000 in the first instance. The second tranche will come in the form of match-funding, whereby they will match whatever the Stag raises in public donations – up to £60,000.
In a series of amendments voted through in the town council meeting, it was agreed that a new working party will then report on the weight of financial implications of the Stag – where it is planned to have a report ready for the end of the calendar year – before any more public money is dispersed to the arts centre.
The Stag initially need an extra £30,000 to offer shows and services and make the building operational while income levels rise again to the level they were at before the lockdown. Their fundraising appeal to secure its future has so far reached £18,000 in public donations.
MP backs fundraising appeal
MP for Sevenoaks, Laura Trott has spoken out about the importance of the Stag after visiting the not-for-profit organisation in June to show her support. Speaking after her visit she said: “For nearly 90 years The Stag Theatre has been at the beating heart of Sevenoaks – and it must remain so.
“When we come through the other side of these testing times, cultural organisations like this will have a key role to play in uniting and healing our community. I have been in close communication with the team throughout the pandemic and it was great to meet staff again last week during a socially distanced visit.
“The loss of Stag Theatre would be devastating, not only to its loyal visitors, but also to our wider local economy. The vital role it plays in our community has never been clearer and I will continue to offer my support through these challenging times. I urge the theatre and cinema audiences, friends and neighbours to visit www.stagsevenoaks.co.uk to see how they can lend their support.”
The Stag’s CEO Andrew Eyre, Business Development Manager Lisa Whitbread and Volunteer Coordinator Rachel Cope spoke to the Sevenoaks MP about how The Stag not only hosts events, but contributes £9 million to the local economy. They explained how it is a community venue which also offers a place to meet, training for young people and the opportunity for people to volunteer.
Since becoming a charity in 2009, The Stag now sees 300,000 annual visits and 2020 was set to be one of its most commercially successful years before the lockdown.