THE owner of Wales’ smallest theatre has spoken of the impact covid-19 has had on the Barry business.

Jasper Blakeley, 49, of the Small Space, in Island Road, has joined other professionals in the film, television, theatre, entertainment, and arts world to urge the UK government to take measures to protect the industry.

With mass gatherings banned, many venues are unable to operate meaning closures and job losses could result with 2021 looking the earliest indoor events could take place.


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The Small Space opened on February 1, 2018, and Mr Blakeley took sole ownership on February 1, 2020 – less than two months before the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

Around 30 per cent of users are local; 30 per cent regional and the remaining 40 per cent are from the UK and abroad

It hosts twice weekly magic shows, a monthly classic film screening, monthly live jazz nights, regular stand-up comedy nights, visiting magicians, musicians and plays.

It also hosts meetings and corporate training; magic teaching; TV and audio location filming; private parties; and events along with lectures and invited film screenings.

Dad-of-two, Mr Blakeley said: “Initially I'd hoped it wasn't going to last too long, but being a theatre I was the first business to shut and I'll be the last to open.

“Fortunately, like many, I received my £10K grant so I've continued to pay my rent, the rent on my lock up, the insurance and the utilities.

“I've been unable to work at all and shopping for two other households with shielding/vulnerable people, I didn't pursue any jobs that might compromise social distancing.

“I've not adapted the theatre yet, but I have an idea how I might go about it but it depends on reducing the 1m rule.

“Also, I'll have to find extra funding to adapt the venue.

“I'm being positive, but the money will run out soon and without any rent relief from my landlord and no other revenue streams within the venue, I'm thinking hard about alternatives.

“With all this talk of second waves I'd be surprised if I'll be able to reopen without some social distancing this year.

“I have several thousand pounds worth of tickets already sold so I need to reopen somehow otherwise I'll have to borrow money to refund people.

“I've extended all tickets and vouchers until the end of March 2021 and I'm hugely grateful to all my customers as not one single person asked for a refund.

“Surely by New Year we will be up and running with full non-distanced audiences, won't we?”

He added: People will be able to support my business in the coming months once I know how and when we can reopen.

“If things start to look dire, as they are for theatres and the arts all over the UK, I might very well have to launch an appeal or pressure those in power for some financial help.

“It's a tricky thing asking the public for help for a venue because so many people and independent businesses are struggling at the moment, but all I can say is that I know, even though I've only been open a relatively short time, that The Small Space is a venue worth keeping.

“It's more than just keeping myself and my family employed, it provides work for so many creative people, plus it has already built up a reputation amongst national and international performers as a unique place to work.

“Whether it's magic, music, cinema, comedy, plays, parties or just having a drink in a unique venue, I very much hope that The Small Space can continue to exist and we very much look forward to welcoming back our regulars and new patrons very soon.”

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