Morecambe arts venue to close after funding is turned down 12 times

A Morecambe arts and entertainments venue will close this month after failing to secure funding.

Matt Panesh performing at Morecambe Fringe Festival. Picture: My I photography.
Matt Panesh performing at Morecambe Fringe Festival. Picture: My I photography.

Alt-space, in Yorkshire Street, the home of Morecambe Fringe, said it had its last 12 applications for funding support turned down.

Matt Panesh, director of Morecambe Fringe, who opened Alt-space last year, said: “I simply can’t afford to keep the place going out of my own pocket.

“The last time we had any kind of funding help was in March for the scratch festival.”

Photo Neil Cross Matt Panesh, organiser of the Morecambe Fringe Festival.

Matt said he now plans to launch a new venue called The West End Playhouse, and hopes to raise £5,000 by December 24 to fund the new venture.

The West End Playhouse would become the new home of Morecambe Fringe, and new community theatre group The West End Players.

Matt said: “The £5,000 will pay off outstanding debt and cover the rent for the majority of the next year, giving the venue and company a chance to use their income to pay the year afters rent and so on and be financially independent.

“The Morecambe Fringe won’t be affected as it isn’t housed in one venue - next year it will grow to be over three weeks, eight venues and 120 shows - but the capacity for the local community to actively take part in the fringe sadly will be affected.”

From January to July 2019 for the third annual fringe event Matt ran and developed multi disciplinary workshops, and was on hand as a free director and advisor meaning Alt-Space produced eight shows, 20 per cent of the programme, by the community, from first time performers to people developing a career.

Participants commented:

“It gave me a connection to my community I never had before.”

“Probably the best thing I’ve done for my career. It led to paid work, for that I’m incredibly grateful.”

“When I started I was unsure of myself. But my confidence and technique have grown. I’m actively seeking gigs across the north west. It’s not only a great arts space but a vital social outlet for the people of morecambe and surrounding areas.”

“My debut show scored a 5 star review and won an award, and I’ll be taking it next year to the Manchester and Edinburgh fringes.”

As well as hosting comedy nights, spoken word nights and theatre events, Alt-space has been used for pathway to art and design students at Lancaster and Morecambe College, a meeting space for the Eden Project and the creative civic change project.

Matt added: “We hope to further develop our standing in the community as The West End Playhouse.

“Home of the West End Players who’ve just written and are currently performing their first play, set in the West Wnd on Yorkshire Street.

“If you have any ideas for funding or who to approach for donations please contact us.”

A Crowdfunding page is due to be launched this Saturday December 7.