Theatres Raise Over £500k for Tsunami Relief FundsDate: 11 January 2005
Little more than a fortnight after the Asian tsunami on Boxing Day, London theatres have collectively raised more than £400,000 in relief funds for victims of the disaster.
A spokesperson for the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) - the marketing body for theatre owners, whose members include all of the West End and major subsidised and off-West End venues – says that virtually every show in London has launched its own ad hoc campaign. The majority of the money to date has been raised through curtain call appeals. At many theatres, cast members have also gotten involved in bucket collections in the foyers post-performance.
The SOLT spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that, as efforts are ongoing, the total is anticipated to top half a million pounds by the end of the month. In addition to nightly collections, some shows are staging special charity performances.
Queen musical We Will Rock You has dedicated its 1,000th performance to the cause. At the special showing, this Wednesday 12 January 2005 at the Dominion Theatre, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor will join band members on stage. All proceeds will be donated to UNICEF’s tsunami appeal fund.
At the Donmar Warehouse, Michael Grandage’s sell-out revival of Broadway musical Grand Hotel has scheduled an extra, late-night performance at 10.45pm on Thursday 27 January 2005. To maximise the donation, the company and Donmar staff have volunteered to work for free.
Outside of London, widespread fundraising campaigns are underway at most regional theatres. At Sunderland Empire, the Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated touring production of musical Starlight Express, which called there this month, collected more than £10,000 in a single week from audiences, cast and crew.
Two of the UK’s largest regional theatre owners – Clear Channel (with a total of 21 venues across the country) and Ambassador Theatre Group (with 23) – have between them raised more than £240,000 from audiences and staff. In addition to curtain call appeals, numerous theatres have organised memorabilia auctions and collected clothes to ship to south-east Asia.
Catie Callender, managing director of Clear Channel Theatrical in the UK, said that her company’s own fundraising figure of £200,000 is “rising daily” and that appeals will continue “for the foreseeable future”. She added that Clear Channel is also "looking at ways to work with producers to devise additional ways to increase the overall total." ATG operations director David Blyth said, “The response has been incredible, and we would like to thank all our customers for their support and generosity.”
- by Terri Paddock