IN RESPONSE to Mr Webb's letter (26 July), Play to the Crowd is the arts and education charity that runs Theatre Royal Winchester and Hat Fair and Playmakers - an extensive community engagement and learning programme.

We've launched our Survival Appeal because of the devastating effects that Covid-19 has had on the whole charity.

Theatre Royal Winchester's intimate auditorium is an absolute treasure.

Its size is exactly why it is so loved by audiences and performers alike, including some of the biggest names in entertainment.

But it's not just the big names - Play to the Crowd nurtures, develops and mentors young performers, technicians and producers; provides a stage for our community and supports companies to develop new work.

LETTER -The Theatre Royal needs subsidy

We receive some investment from Arts Council England, Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council - but this is not to 'prop up’ the theatre – it’s an investment in our community, creating a better place to live, work and play. In 2019/20 we programmed 300+ FREE performances enjoyed by 90,000+ at Hat Fair; entertained 70,000+ at the theatre; worked with 10,000+ local school pupils through workshops, visits and careers support; and gave 2,500+ community performers, emerging and established artists access to our theatre.

Plus we attracted £1 million+ in additional visitor spend for Winchester. A pretty good Return on Investment!

We generate 80% of our income ourselves.

Since March, this has gone and we have no clarity from government when we may re-open without social distancing (whilst in place it is not economically viable for most theatres to re-open).

I urge Mr Webb to look at the comments on our Crowdfunding page ( ) to understand our value to local people and invite him to meet so I can highlight the impact we make to our city; the UK’s cultural landscape; the true diversity of our audience and the benefits that live performance and participation has on people's wellbeing.

Arts charities are much more than what you see on the stage. The size of the auditorium is less important than the heritage of the building and the impact of the activities.

Deryck Newland

Chief Executive, Play to the Crowd