Shoreham's Ropetackle counts down to the "special buzz" of reopening

It’s going to be a lovely moment when the doors open at Shoreham’s Ropetackle and there are people inside there again, says marketing manager Nicky Thornton

Friday, 24th July 2020, 7:30 am

There’s a very special buzz they are all looking forward to.

“We just want that vibe again of people coming in and out even if it is just a small number coming in to see a film.”

From August 4-21, there will be feature films for families at the venue on Tuesdays and toddler films on Friday mornings for the under-fives.

“We are not looking at live performances yet, but we are reviewing all the shows that we have got until the end of the year.

“We have been talking a lot with the promoters, and a lot to them for the bigger bands were saying that with social distancing or the fact that they are travelling from abroad, they are just going to take their shows off for this year and put them on for next year instead.

“So a lot of the shows that we had planned from March to September have been postponed. But everybody has been wonderful.

“We will have August cinema and we will have films all the way up until Christmas now. Films are easier. They are obviously not live performance. It is easier to seat people.

“There is no standing around. There is no interval. It is one in, one out with the toilets. We have organised a one-way system so that people can move around easily.

“We are very confident that we will be able to manage it and that it will be fine.”

And Nicky suspects audiences will be ready: “People are looking in and thinking that it looks a good thing to do.

“People are needing some entertainment. The children have been cooped up and a bit bored, I am sure!”

As for live shows: “We will make a decision.

“We have postponed September shows and we are still doing that. We have got two more to rearrange.

“But with social distancing, we have to really careful. It is very different when you can only have a third of your audience.

“With the bigger bands like Lindisfarne, who sold out, there is no way you can get that audience in with social distancing, so you have to think again.

“Our capacity is now 60 down from 200, and if you imagine the ticket sales on that, it is not going to be cost-effective to run shows of that magnitude to a small audience.

“We did have a bit of a discussion as to whether we could run two shows a night, but that would put a lot of put of pressure on the musicians, so, no, that wouldn’t work. Most of the promoters were just wanting to make sure that everything is smooth and easy so it was better for them to put things back a few months to February or March.

“But what we are hoping is that we may be able to have some of the more local bands in and organise something just to keep live music going. We are still looking at what to do with October, November, December.

“We have got a programming committee and an emergency trust committee. They are just looking at what is going to be feasible.”

As for panto, Nicky is certainly hoping for the best: “We are still going ahead with it and will adapt as necessary.”

But the crucial thing is that the great survivor has survived again.

After its funding crisis of more than a year ago, the Ropetackle has been put to the sternest possible test this year – and has come out with confidence.

“We are survivors”, Nicky says.

“This is a survivors’ kind of place. We have been so well supported by the staff and the trust and the volunteers and the people – and all the performers. So many of them always want to come back to see what they can do to help us.”