MIKRON Theatre Company are launching a near-£50,000 fundraising appeal to secure their 50th anniversary year, but under the dark clouds of Coronavirus their future is at risk.
The West Yorkshire company had to cancel this summer’s tours of Amanda Whittington’s Atalanta Forever and Poppy Hollman’s A Dog’s Tale, once the Covid-19 lockdown strictures prevented them from touring by canal, river and road as is their custom.
The stultifying impact of the pandemic has dealt Mikron a “potentially catastrophic blow” and consequently they need help to “ensure that they get back on their feet, back on the road and back on the water”.
No touring from April to October has meant no income from 130 shows, no merchandise, no programmes, no raffle, in the budget, whereupon Mikron are facing a shortfall of £48,337.49.
Artistic director Marianne McNamara says: “The entire management team is doing as much as we can to reduce costs month by month, but this simply is not enough. On current budgets, the company will run out of money before our 50th year of touring in 2021.
“With this in mind, we have no choice but to launch an appeal to raise £48,337.49 by the end of December 2020 to ensure that Mikron has a future within the theatre industry.”
Should the appeal be successful, next summer Mikron will tour Atalanta Forever, Whittington’s story of women’s football in the 1920s, and Hollman’s canine comedy caper A Dog’s Tale. As ever, York would play host to shows at Scarcroft Allotments and Clements Hall.
After making the decision not to tour in light of the pandemic, Mikron took Arts Council England’s advice and have been helping the community in their home village of Marsden, near Huddersfield.
To do so, they have repurposed their office and van to assist with the village Covid-19 mutual aid group Marsden Help and have delivered hundreds of food parcels and prescriptions to self-isolating and vulnerable families.
“We’re so incredibly sad not to be touring,” says Marianne. “In the early stages of the Coronavirus outbreak we looked at every possible combination, but none of them were practical.
“What I would not give to see Mikron performing at a canalside venue to a large crowd with the sun setting behind us. We see the same faces in different places year on year and we really miss them but the safety of the cast and crew, venues and, of course, our loyal audiences, had to come first.”
Based in the village of Marsden, at the foot of the Yorkshire Pennines, Mikron tour on board a vintage narrowboat, Tyseley, putting on shows in “places that other theatre companies wouldn’t dream of”.
It could be a play about growing-your-own, staged at allotments; a play abuzz with bees, performed next to hives, or a play where the chips are down, served up in a fish and chip restaurant. Add to that list a play celebrating hostelling, booked into YHA Youth hostels and the story of the RNLI, launched from several lifeboat stations on the coast.
Since Mikron formed in 1972, they have:
Written 64 original shows;
Composed 384 songs;
Issued 236 actor-musician contracts;
Spent 30,000 boating hours on the inland waterways;
Covered 530,000 road miles;
Performed 5,060 times;
Played to 428,000 people.
For further information and to donate to the appeal to keep Yorkshire’s narrowboat theatre company afloat, visit mikron.org.uk/appeal. Donations also can be sent to Mikron Theatre, Marsden Huddersfield, HD7 6BW.