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Arts of the UK 2020: Kenton Theatre launches fundraising campaign ‘Kenton For Keeps’

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LONDON – The Kenton Theatre, the UK’s fourth-oldest working theatre based in the centre of Henley-on-Thames, has today announced its plans to raise £35,000 through their fundraising campaign Kenton For Keeps. Like most theatres in the UK the Kenton Theatre has suffered financially during the COVID-19 pandemic when it had to close its doors to the public in March.

The Kenton Theatre received financial aid from the Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund, supported by the National Lottery, in May 2020. The Kenton has set a target to match the £35,000 received through its own fundraising campaign. Asking the public to generously support the intimate 240 seat theatre will help invest in the venue’s immediate future. With 70% of theatres warning they will run out of cash by the end of the year The Kenton want to preserve the heritage of the theatre, and keep it safe for the generations to come.

West End actor Mike Sterling (The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables) will be hosting a live stream concert through The Kenton Theatre’s YouTube channel on Friday 9th October at 7pm to support Kenton For Keeps. The concert will consist of songs and anecdotes from West End hit shows.

British stage and screen actor Simon Williams, known for playing the role of James Bellamy in the ITV BAFTA award-winning Upstairs, Downstairs, National treasure Mary Berry and comedian/poet Pam Ayres all show their support towards Kenton For Keeps.

Julie Huntington, Chair of the trustees at The Kenton Theatre said: “With not being able to do our job – that is, entertain and delight our audiences for the last 6 months, this period has had a huge financial impact on our beloved Kenton Theatre. She, The Kenton, the “Grand Old Lady” of theatre, 215 years old this year, has survived many battles. Built in the time of the Napoleonic Wars, she has come through many testing times, including bankruptcy, abandonment and two world wars. This latest challenge however – this unseen enemy, Covid-19, is probably one of the most difficult to overcome, but overcome we will and this is where the local community and the Kenton’s patrons are so very important to her survival. This is also why the new Board of Trustees are very excited to relaunch the highly successful “Kenton for Keeps” campaign that saw the purchase of the freehold of the theatre back in 2011 and would urge audiences, past and present and FUTURE to support the campaign as much as they can. We shall shortly be publishing our plans for the future. Our “Grand Old Lady”, The Kenton Theatre is a much-loved landmark of Henley, we want to make sure that we secure her future for generations to come.”

Mike Sterling, actor and supporter of The Kenton Theatre said:  “It’s vital that all the public near and far, get behind this campaign for such a piece of national treasure as the Kenton. There are not many venues like this and its preservation is vital. I believe also that Henley can indeed set a benchmark for venues such as The Kenton. It’s only when these venues disappear that people truly realise what they have lost in their midst. Personally, I truly ‘feel’ the Kenton and what it stands for. If everyone was to get behind our cause and support it, the long-term financial impact for them is minimal, but for The Kenton, it’s a case of it flourishing.”

Pam Ayres, supporter of The Kenton Theatre said:  “I’ve been appearing at the Kenton Theatre now for many years and have always loved it! I’ve been there for literary festivals and to do my own show on many occasions and I’ve always come away thinking what a valuable place it is. I’m appealing to you today to donate whatever you can to help keep The Kenton open. Please help us ensure that The Kenton Theatre is here for the future generations in Henley and for everyone who is interested in theatre to come along and enjoy.”

Visit kentontheatre.co.uk/kentonforkeeps to donate online, and find out more information.

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