A HAMPSHIRE theatre is set to re-open in May after receiving a £4,700 grant towards the cost of PPE.

The theatre is the main facility at Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton, which has been closed for most of the last 12 months as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Staff are set to welcome audiences again in the middle of May if restrictions ease.

It follows the award of a grant from Theatres Trust, which has donated the money needed to buy PPE and keep people safe when they return to the site.

The trust has given theatres across the country a total of £155,000 to help them meet the cost of reopening.

Hanger Farm Arts Centre is run by the Minstead Trust, a charity which helps people with learning disabilities to live more independent lives.

They are given the opportunity to work in the centre’s café as well as running an inclusive community theatre group.

A Minstead Trust spokesperson said the Covid crisis had proved "hugely challenging" for the charity, which had seen its income drop dramatically.

They added: "The Trust runs Furzey Gardens in Minstead and Minstead Lodge conference and events venue as well as Hanger Farm.

"These enterprises also offer work experience for people with learning disabilities to work towards employment."

The manager of the arts centre, Kyle Maxwell, added: "After a long, difficult year it's really exciting to be looking forward with optimism to the day when we can welcome audiences back.

"The grant from Theatres Trust is a huge help to our efforts to make a visit to the theatre this summer as safe and enjoyable as possible.

"Our preparations for reopening will now be able to continue apace as we get ready for a jam-packed schedule of music, theatre and comedy in the second half of the year."

The director of Theatres Trust is Jon Morgan.

He said: "We are beginning to look forward to a time when theatres can reopen, welcome audiences back inside and continue to play a vital role in their communities.

"Following a difficult year, Theatres Trust is delighted to be able to support Hanger Farm Arts Centre, a much-loved community theatre, with its plans for a safe reopening."