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Spalding's Polka Dot Pantomimes gets £63,500 lifeline from government




A Spalding-based theatre company can plan for 2021 with "confidence" and financial stability after its entire Christmas programme was lost due to coronavirus.

Polka Dot Pantomimes, located at The Umbrella in Westlode Street, has received a live-saving grant of £63,500 from Arts Council England through the Government's £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

The theatre company was due to have staged the pantomime, Dick Whittington, at Spalding's South Holland Centre in December.

Spalding theatre company Polka Dot Pantomimes, pictured at South Holland Centre in December 2018 during its production of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Spalding theatre company Polka Dot Pantomimes, pictured at South Holland Centre in December 2018 during its production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

But the grant, one of just five awarded to organisations in Lincolnshire from the second round of CRF grants totalling £76million, ensures that Polka Dot's four office-based staff and 120-strong performance crew can prepare for shows next year.

Darren Maddison, one of Polka Dot Pantomimes' executive producers, said: "We're really thrilled to have the support of Arts Council England and the Government as it basically means that our business is now sustainable again.

"We have eight pantomimes that are produced around the country, but we've had to cancel all of them.

"The nature of our business means that we don't receive an income until October because we always operate on a supply of tickets, with the money coming between October and February.

"When we cancelled the season, to have to go another 12 months without seeing any income would have been a really scary proposition.

"But the grant has really saved our business and given us the confidence to go into 2021."

Polka Dot Pantomimes is the second organisation in Spalding to benefit from a CRF grant after it was announced last Monday that South Holland Centre will get £170,860 .

Set up in 2005, Polka Dot Pantomimes staged its first show at South Holland Centre before adding two more theatres to its programme in 2009, followed by two more in 2011 after an unsuccessful bid for investment on BBC TV's Dragon's Den.

Darren said: "We started in youth theatre, but when the pantomimes took off in 2011, we decided to concentrate on that.

"It's a small-scale operation as there are only four of us in the office.

"But we do employ 120 people , including a director, professional dancers, set and costume designers, on a freelance basis for each of our seasons.

"Spalding has a special place in our hearts as it's where our office is and South Holland Centre is a fantastic venue, managed by fantastic staff and volunteers."



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