‘I’m not sure that I’ve ever thought of The Bike Shed as just a venue. It’s more of a metaphor for the city of Exeter and its people. It’s vibrant, exciting, and willing to try new things in new ways. It punches above its weight, and makes us all feel very proud that it’s here.’
Paul Manville, audience member and supporter
Being a charity, receiving donations is essential for us to continue the work we do, whether that’s supporting local artists or providing reduced priced tickets to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to come here.
Below is a letter from our Co-Founder and Director David Lockwood about why your donation is important to us.
In 2010, we went down into a cellar off Fore Street to create the sort of cultural place that we’d want to make work in, to see work in and, perhaps most importantly, to have a drink in. We stayed a few weeks, then a few months and now, six years on, we’re still here.
We started with the generosity of volunteers, the generosity of a pub (The Fat Pig, which gave us £500), and the generosity of audiences who took a chance on a new play by an unknown writer, performed by our ambitious theatre company. That generosity continues. Volunteers man the box office each night and hundreds of people donate a few extra pounds when buying tickets (we don’t like forcing booking fees). In 2012, sixty people gave £50 each to sponsor our chairs.
In the last few years, the money that we receive from trusts, foundations, businesses and Arts Council England has all increased. We’ve also won a number of awards and been named the Most Welcoming Theatre in the UK. This is a fantastic sign of the confidence in the work that we’re doing.
And yet, of course, there are more things that we need to do.
We want our productions to reach the widest audience possible. This takes time, and time costs money.
We must start to give guaranteed fees to the companies visiting us so they’re not forced to take the risk on the box office themselves.
And we need to deliver on our ambitious plans to develop the Quayside Boat Shed into a vibrant cultural hub for the city.
Two years ago, I was privileged to have been given a Clore Fellowship, which enabled me to meet people and visit places that I’d never otherwise have been able to. Two weeks ago, I was in New York, meeting leaders from the tiniest of Off-Broadway theatres to the largest of institutions. One thing they all had in common: they all had a lists of supporters who regularly give to their organisation.
My question to them: “Could we do this in England?”
Their unanimous response: “Of course. You just need to ask.”
So here we are. The Big Ask.
I’d like to ask you to make a donation to The Bike Shed Theatre. Your contribution will help us to continue on our remarkable six-year trajectory, from pop-up to award-winners. With your help, we can continue to work with artists that excite us, to nurture those near the start of their careers, to bring their work to wider audiences, and to push forward The Boat Shed.
If you can, donate as much or as little as you like.
Your help is greatly appreciated.
I hope to see you down here again soon,
If you’d like to find out more about The Bike Shed Theatre’s charitable activity and make a donation, please email Kelly.