THE boss of the Wyvern says the theatre faces an uncertain future if it doesn’t get a slice of government funding.

Laura James, director of the Wyvern Theatre and Swindon Arts Centre, said she ‘did not know what would happen’ it the bid was unsuccessful.

Both theatres have been closed since the end of March and neither have plans to reopen soon.

HQ Theatres, which runs the Wyvern and the Arts Centre, is applying for money from the government’s £1.57 billion cultural relief fund, but won’t hear the outcome until October.

“Receiving a share of that funding is kind of crucial to us and our survival,” said Laura.

The theatre has had no income since it closed in March.

“We don’t know when we will be able to open but there’s the real potential that we will lose revenue for an entire financial year,” Laura said. “There’s still so much unknown, so much uncertainty.

“If we’re not successful in securing that funding I honestly can’t say what will happen,” she added.

Under government guidelines, theatres were allowed to reopen from August 1 with socially-distanced audiences. But for many this is not a practical option.

Laura said: “Operating with social distancing in place is just not financially viable for most theatres.

“At the Wyvern, with a capacity of 635 seats, to be in line with social distancing you’d have to reduce capacity down to about 20 per cent.

“That’s just not viable in terms of having a theatre open and all the staffing and running costs, let alone the costs to the producers who put these shows on and all the artists they have to pay.

Many of the staff have been furloughed through the government’s job retention scheme, which ends in October.

The Wyvern and Arts Centre are the only two professional theatres in Swindon and the Wyvern is the largest in Wiltshire. Alongside professional shows they host community activities, including dementia-friendly events, youth workshops, rehearsal and performance spaces for community theatre groups, and are home to Reach Inclusive Arts and Prime Theatre.

“We’re relied upon by a huge section of the community,” said Laura.

“It’s not just about having to drive to the next town to see a show.

“The effect on Swindon would be catastrophic if we lost our venues and on our cultural landscape,” she said.