The BandBox Theatre has been a staple of the Kempsey community for the last few decades, but the beloved venue is in danger of being lost forever.
Colin Mayhew, acting Secretary of the Kempsey Singers, who have primarily been in charge of the building, says it's time for people to step up, or say goodbye to the venue.
"If we can't get the necessary support we need this year, the Kempsey Singers will more than likely disband, and the community will lose their local live theatre group, plus a fully equipped live performance facility," he said.
"It's been left to a small group of us to keep the doors open, and we have been busting our guts out, but we can't keep going without help and some funding.
"We don't want the theatre to close, but it's getting to that stage."
Anybody interested in helping is encouraged to attend the Kempsey Singers Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, March 9, at the BandBox Theatre, Cnr. Wide and Sea St's. Start time is 7pm.
The meeting will be used to elect a new committee and discuss plans for the future of the Kempsey Singers and the building.
They are always looking for people to come on board and help with set construction, assisting with costumes, front house duties, assisting in the kitchen, and various other roles.
"We are inviting past members, anybody who has been involved with the group over the years in any capacity, to attend," Colin said.
"Anyone outside of our group who is interested in continuing live theatre here in Kempsey, and the preservation of The BandBox Theatre, is welcome to come along as well."
The Kempsey Singers and the theatre have been in dire straits for a while now.
In years past, they have held over 90 stage shows, from dramatic plays to musicals, with the most recent being The Island of Doctor Moron, which proved a hit with audiences.
COVID-19 has played a large part in the downturn, but also the draconian lease agreement with the landlords, Kempsey Shire Council.
"The land is crown land, the building is owned by the council, who we rent off, but we have been mainly responsible for outfitting and maintaining the building," Colin said.
"We also have to pay rates, rent, mow the lawns, and keep the building in a workable state."
The theatre is also desperately in need of renovations, to make it more comfortable for visitors and modernise the building.
"The original group in the 1960s moved into an unlined shed that through hard work and perseverance was transformed into a fully functional live performance facility," Colin said.
"It's still a great space, and we have put a lot of work into it over the years; it just needs modernising from the old 70s and 80s style.
"The ultimate goal, if we can find the funding, is to turn it into a community performance centre, a place where everyone can use it for live performances, whether that be dancing, a musical, or something else."
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