Mayflower Theatre receives lifeline grant AND announce socially distant PANTO!

Mayflower Theatre has been awarded £3 million as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced today.

Mayflower Theatre is one of 35 major cultural organisations receiving the first grants between £1 and £3 million through the Culture Recovery Fund – with £75 million of investment announced today.

This follows £334 million awarded earlier in the month to nearly 2,000 organisations, also from the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Michael Ockwell, Mayflower Theatre Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to receive this essential financial support from the Culture Recovery Fund. This means we can continue to offer cultural activity in the local and regional community throughout the closure period.

As a venue that does not normally receive any funding, our aim has been to support other cultural and community organisations and we can continue to host a variety of events and commit to a season of socially distanced productions until we are able to open again to full capacity.

This funding means we can build from a solid platform and contribute to the social and economic recovery that our region will need over the coming months. Arts can be transformative and this essential commitment allows us to continue our outreach and community work, particularly supporting young people by developing opportunities for them to harness their own creativity.

We hope we can reach an even wider audience and justify this investment which recognises just how the creative industries can be a power for good.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we're saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million – from Shakespeare's Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are.- This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away."

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “The Culture Recovery Fund has already helped hundreds of organisations, of all types and sizes, in villages, towns and cities across the country. It has provided a lifeline that will allow these organisations to continue to play an integral role in their communities and produce new artistic work that will entertain and inspire us all.

“This latest funding, which are the largest grants to date, will support some of the country’s most loved and admired cultural spaces – from great regional theatres and museums to historic venues in the capital – which are critical to the development of a new generation of talent and in providing work for freelance creatives.”


Mayflower Theatre and pantomime producers Qdos Entertainment have today announced that a socially-distanced pantomime will be staged at the Southampton venue, with an all-new production of Sleeping Beauty, thanks to support from The National Lottery. Starring legendary funny-man Joe Pasquale, comedy legend Lesley Joseph, iconic female impersonator Ceri Dupree and musical theatre leading lady Sarah Earnshaw.

The show will play from Saturday 19 December for a strictly limited 2 week run.

The production is able to go ahead thanks to the support of The National Lottery, which will give thousands of theatregoers, in Southampton and across the country, the chance to enjoy socially distanced pantomime this Christmas. The show is being staged as a result of an initiative between The National Lottery and Qdos Entertainment which is providing financial support for theatres to stage socially distanced, live pantomimes this festive season. This will make it viable for venues, including Mayflower Theatre, to open their doors to the general public, generating vital income for the theatre and helping to restore jobs while providing much-needed cheer for pantomime lovers.

Comedian and actor Joe Pasquale will lead the cast in the role of Princess Beauty’s best friend, Muddles. Well-known and best-loved for being one of the hardest- working and top-selling live comedians in British comedy today, Joe has been delighting audiences for more than 20 years with his live stand-up tours and infectious sense of fun. Joe has toured in several major theatrical productions including Mel Brooks’ The Producers, starred in the West End production of Spamalot, been crowned King of the Jungle in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… appeared on five Royal Variety Performances and toured the UK in a live stage incarnation of the classic sitcom Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em in the iconic role of Frank Spencer.

Birds of a Feather legend Lesley Joseph joins him as the evil Carabosse. Lesley’s extensive career has seen her appear on stage in dramas, musicals and reviews in the West End and across the UK and on every major television channel and on film working with major directors including Franco Zeffirelli. Most recently Lesley starred as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie as well as appearing in Home directed by Peter Hall. In 2018 she starred in the musical adaptation of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein in London’s West End starring as Frau Blücher, a role for which she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. No stranger to pantomime, Lesley stars in Qdos Entertainment Productions to audience and critical acclaim every festive season.

Tickets for Sleeping Beauty go on sale on Thursday 29 October 10am from or 02380 711811.