A Stevenage theatre has been awarded more than £225,000 in government funding to aid its reopening plans following the coronavirus pandemic.

Stevenage Leisure Limited (SLL) has received a further lifeline grant from the government’s £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund.

SLL has been successful in its second application to the fund for the Gordon Craig Theatre, home of the town's hugely popular Christmas panto.

Clare Fletcher, strategic director at Stevenage Borough Council, said: “This is more fantastic news for leisure and cultural facilities in Stevenage, and comes shortly after the announcement about the council’s successful bid for funding from the government’s National Leisure Recovery Fund.

“All of the funding will be vital in helping our leisure facilities to reopen safely and recover after the pandemic.”

The Comet: The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage is #HereForCultureThe Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage is #HereForCulture (Image: Gordon Craig Theatre)

The £227,228 awarded to the Lytton Way venue, delivered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is part of the government’s £1.57bn package for UK culture and heritage.

David Brame, chief executive of SLL, said: “We are delighted to receive a second grant from Arts Council England and DCMS during what has been an incredibly challenging time.

"This grant is crucial as we prepare for a much-anticipated reopening of the Gordon Craig Theatre, and to rebuild an engaging programme of cultural events which bring people and communities together."

With some arts venues closed for more than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the theatre industry bad, and the sector is facing its greatest challenge yet.

A GCT spokesperson said: "Our much-loved venue has faced an incredibly difficult 12 months and we know that there will be further challenges to come as the face of the pandemic changes daily.

"However, this grant along with the continued support of our local authority partner Stevenage Borough Council, is a lifeline which will help us prepare to reopen and bring back cultural events in a COVID-secure way."

Posting on Instagram, the Gordon Craig Theatre wrote: "Thanks to the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund we can continue to be #HereForCulture and we cannot wait to be able to share our events with you as soon as possible."