Astor Theatre

Published: 31 July 2020

At the Extraordinary meeting of Deal Town Council on Monday 6th July, Councillors expressed their concern over what they felt were misleading claims regarding the plight of the Astor Theatre on the front page of the East Kent Mercury.

The front page EKM article entitled “Curtain to Fall “implied that the Town Council had not been quick enough to assist the Astor Theatre which is facing the threat of permanent closure following the Government introduction of COVID-19 pandemic crisis regulations.

Mr Tillitt, the Astor’s Artistic Director was quoted as saying that local government have shown no urgency in responding to his request for help in saving the theatre.

This press statement aims to put the record straight and ensure the coverage is balanced and based on the facts.

Mr Tillitt was advised that his request for funding for the Astor Theatre would be on the agenda at the council's first scheduled virtual meeting on 28th July and a decision on funding support will be made then.

The Town Council is proud of its support for this vital community asset.

Since 2009 Deal Town Council has awarded grant funding to the Astor Theatre totalling £37,620.53 with the latest grant being £2,000 in 2018.

During the period of lockdown, Deal Town Council set up a Covid-19 Emergency Grant Fund of £15,000 to assist local organisations, community groups, clubs or small local businesses providing vital services to the community as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak. Mr Tillitt was advised of this fund but chose not to apply.

Mayor Councillor Eileen Rowbotham said,

"The Astor Theatre was left to the people of Deal in recognition of their fortitude during WW2 and Dover District in partnership with Deal Town Council hold this vital community asset in trust for the town.

It acts as host to many community groups as well as proving a source of varied and diverse quality entertainment. Through the Emergency Grant Fund, a grant has been paid to the Soul Chef Catering so that they could use the kitchens at the Astor Theatre for food preparation.

I met with Mr Tillitt and also suggested the Theatre apply for KCC Members Grants, request funding from neighbouring Town and Parish Councils and do an online crowdfunding appeal. This last idea was taken up and proved very successful bringing in I have been told £14K. There are other fundraising ideas that I have shared, and I am willing to help promote”