AN Ellesmere Port theatre company has been awarded £115,129 of vital Government funding to ensure its survival during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Boaty Theatre Company is one of 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support in the latest round of funding.

The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund is being administered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

In February this year The Boaty Theatre Company, which began life as a youth theatre group at The National Waterways Museum, signed a lease agreement for the community hub building at 112 Whitby Road, which was formerly occupied by EPNAVCO.

The self-funded move was a gamble, but one which the creative team and the board of trustees felt was necessary for the future of the company.

Over the course of several short weeks they transformed what was once an office workspace into a vibrant and creative facility bursting with positivity – The Boat Shed Creative Community Hub.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck the team feared for the future. but they never gave up and during the first national lockdown period they worked tirelessly to plan, create, pack and distribute 400 activity packs to local low income families.

They worked to ensure that The Boat Shed was covid-safe and opened the building up to vulnerable families, making it a safe haven for anyone fleeing domestic violence.

Finally, the team developed a six-week summer programme with food provision – including the delivery of food packages to families in need) – which included drama, art therapy, mindfulness, songwriting and pilates.

Sessions were run both at their new home and online so that no one missed out.

Chester and District Standard:

The Boaty Theatre Company, Ellesmere Port.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back.

"Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations.

"These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country."

Arts Council England chair Sir Nicholas Serota, said: "Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries.

"This latest set of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund builds on those announced recently and will help hundreds of organisations to survive the next few months, ensuring that the cultural sector can bounce back after the crisis.

"We will continue doing everything we can to support artists and cultural and creative organisations, with further funding to be announced in the coming weeks."

Laura J Harris, artistic director for The Boaty Theatre Company, said: "The Boat Shed Creative Community Hub is currently the only creative and artistic, performing arts based facility of its kind in Ellesmere Port.

"As a theatre company, even before finally finding our home in The Boat Shed, we have always worked to provide opportunities for personal growth, skill-sharing and upward mobility for people of all ages and abilities.

"But most importantly, we understand the really powerful and positive effect that creativity and the ability to engage in self-expression have on individual wellbeing and community pride."

She added: "Our ethos and the way in which we work has always been about building a stronger and more resilient community who understand and respect each other’s needs and values.

"The Boat Shed is a creative community hub – a gallery space, studio theatre and community coffee shop – that has been born out of a need; it is our response as The Boaty Theatre Company to the creative, artistic, cultural, emotional and well-being needs of our community in Ellesmere Port."