A THEATRE group is pleading with the people of Renfrewshire to help their organisation recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

PACE Theatre Company, based in Paisley, had been hoping to entertain audiences this Christmas with a new pantomime but have now confirmed their annual event will not be going ahead.

Chief executive Grant Mason said there were a number of factors which meant it was not viable for the company to produce a production this year.

He told The Gazette: "Paisley Arts Centre, our home venue for more than 30 years, is currently undergoing a £2.8millon redevelopment and due to delays resulting from the pandemic, will not re-open for December 2021 as originally expected. 

"Coupled with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the uncertainty about any future restrictions, we feel the risks are too great to commit to staging a production this year.

"Neither do we have plans for an online panto alternative at this time. Last year's 'Lost in Pantoland' was made possible with support from an emergency arts relief fund and, without this additional funding, the model is not sustainable."

However, having to scrap their live panto for a second year is a particularly bitter blow for the theatre group, as the revenue from ticket sales is much needed.

It also means many families will miss out again on their annual trip to the festive show, which is always popular with Renfrewshire audiences.

Mr Mason added: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we understand that many people will be disappointed. Our annual pantomime is a highlight of the year for many people, as it is for us, but we're looking forward to being able to come back bigger and better next year.

"As a registered charity, we are hugely dependent on ticket sales to subsidise the work we do with young people throughout the year. Over 95 per cent of our income comes from ticket sales and fees, meaning that we have been especially hard hit during the pandemic, and the loss of panto from our schedule for a second year running will leave a massive hole in our funds."

If you would like to support the theatre company, visit www.pacetheatre.com/donate/ or text PACE to 70191 to donate £10.