THE manager of St Helens Theatre Royal says more still needs to be done to support the arts amid the coronavirus crisis - after Government campaigns encouraging people to retrain sparked anger.

The Corporation Street theatre has been closed since March, when a nationwide lockdown was announced.

They have been struggling alongside other businesses due to uncertainty over when they will be able to fully reopen to audiences.

The theatre did receive a huge boost this week, however, after being awarded more than £300,000 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

In North West investment will help save 165 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums and local venues facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

This funding will help organisations create work and performances, and plan for reopening. 

This includes £313,080 for St Helens Theatre Royal.

Nevertheless, a recent advertising campaign has caused further upset among the arts industry, where there are naturally concerns overs jobs.

At the centre of the row was a government-backed advert suggesting a ballet dancer could retrain in cyber security.

The ad, the latest in a long-running campaign to promote cyber security jobs, sparked a social media backlash.

A Downing Street spokesperson said it was "not appropriate" and had been taken down. It was disowned by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who said the "crass" ad did not come from his department.

Speaking to the Star, Chantelle Nolan, theatre manager at St Helens Theatre Royal, had been lifted by the funding announcement.

But she also spoke of the trying times the industry has been endured and the distress such adverts cause.

She said: "When lockdown happened in March we had to close the week before when there was a show on By the Waters of Liverpool and the stage has been continuously dark since then.

"It's really hard to keep morale up, we have used this time to refurbish the gents toilets which needed doing, but other than that it's been stressful as the arts haven't been supported really.

"We have an exciting show coming up which is made to be coronavirus social distancing safe with Strictly Come Dancing's Kevin and Joanne Clifton but we are doing that for the love of our community really.

"I will be happy if we break even as the amount of seats we are able to fill with restrictions, means it isn't enough to make a profit.

"But theatre is more than that, it's about giving people a place to escape to, and we all need a bit of that at the moment.

"The reports on people needing to retrain is horrible, we need support for the artists and musicians not what they are getting right now.

"I am theatre trained, and though I don't do it now I know all too well what words like the Fatima campaign can have on someone starting out.

"It's not easy for anyone at the moment, but please support the arts because we've been really affected.

"If people can please support us because audiences are the beating heart of theatre and without them, or the artists and musicians put down during all of this, then theatre will be over really."

Speaking earlier this week, Chantelle described the importance of the Government grant: "These funds are incredibly welcome to ensure that we at St Helens Theatre Royal can continue to serve our local community and secure our future.

"These funds will be invaluable towards securing job retention, enable us to open to socially distanced performances, in presenting our annual pantomime and making improvements at the venue to allow us to re-open and improve access facilities. #HereForCulture"