Shoreham's Ropetackle Arts Centre facing 'critical' threat of closure

Shoreham's Ropetackle Arts Centre has launched an impassioned plea for support amid funding fears that may cause it to close.

The High Street entertainment venue and cinema has opened a community fundraising appeal, Ropetackle 2020, in an attempt to raise the £30,000 needed per year that could secure its survival.

The Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham's High Street

The Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham's High Street

Ropetackle's chairman, Martin Allen, said: “As with nearly all arts venues, Ropetackle cannot survive without subsidy. Our situation is now critical to extent that we are calling on our community to support us. We are a charity, and without such support, we face the prospect of closure.”

Ropetackle 2020 invites contributions of different levels, with patrons entitled to reserve seating and the right to priority booking of certain tickets. The different levels are:

- Gold: £45 per month or £500 single annual payment

- Silver: £10 per month or £100 single annual payment

- Friends: £2 per month or £20 single annual payment

- Donors: £10 per year

International best-selling author Peter James has already signed up as a Gold patron. He was involved in the Ropetackle's establishment in the town and said what it had evolved into was 'ten times richer than the original vision'. It s not just an arts centre, he said, it is a community hub.

With audiences of over 40,000 per year and with numerous community and other activities, in the 12 years since it opened, Ropetackle has been a remarkable success story, punching above its weight in the regional arts scene. In the past six months, top comedians Romesh Ranganathan, Jack Dee, Alan Carr, and Peter James have entertained audiences, along with some of the biggest names in jazz, rock, blues, folk, indie and world music.

Having won several prestigious awards, Ropetackle’s latest accolade came this spring, when it was voted Best Theatre and Arts Venue in Sussex by national digital lifestyle magazine Muddy Stilettos.

However, Martin Allen said, success comes at a price. "There is the ongoing cost of running a live entertainment venue, and the complexity of its operation means we need more paid staff to support our wonderful team of volunteers," he said.

“Ropetackle is a real hub for the community. As well as offering a rich cultural experience, we work with schools, disadvantaged groups and a number of partners to inspire everyone and help reduce loneliness.

"Our café is very popular, and we attract tourists to the area, with our audiences contributing upward of £1million a year to the local economy. I hope the scheme will encourage people to sign up with a view to supporting us year-on-year so that we can sustain this wonderful Centre and keep it running long into the future.”

Those interested in joining the scheme can do so online at www.ropetacklecentre.co.uk/ropetackle2020 or in person at the Box Office.

Sussex’s best soul and funk band, the South Coast Soul Revue, will be performing a fundraising gig in aid of Ropetackle 2020 on Friday, September 6, at the venue. The band will be supported by two other soul acts and the fun kicks off at 8pm. Everyone is welcome. Tickets just £20.