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Chair’s Letter March 2017

Jane Buckland

BLT Chair Jane Buckland

We are now well into the 2017 season and got off to a cracking start with the popular The 39 Steps and a thought provoking and beautifully acted Heresy of Love. We are so fortunate at BLT to have the freedom to present a seasons of plays  with such a broad range of styles and themes. 2016 was a great year for the theatre, artistically and financially. Our  2016 season averaged a 86% attendance and we ended the year with our largest profit in recent memory. This is all great news for our fundraising and development plans as it shows that while we may be asking for money, we are also working hard to increase our revenue stream ourselves by growing our audiences and finding opportunities to take our productions on to other venues such as Hever.

For the past three years, as you know, we have been working to develop a strategy to modernise and develop not just the building of BLT but the way we do things here. It began with the steps necessary to open up bookings to non members which necessitated changes to the way the bar was run and the appointment of new volunteers to run the bar. Peter Yolland and his team generated our biggest profits ever from the bar this year ( and hardly took a drop themselves!) We now have an excellent fundraising team in place and the development group is working closely with our architects to finalise our phased improvements to the building. All this work is underpinned by the security of a long term lease which resulted from three years of dogged negotiating.

Over the next three years our aim will be to create a management structure that allows the theatre to run efficiently and makes best use of all the hundreds of hours of unpaid work donated by all our volunteers. We want to strengthen our relationship with The Churchill and become the ‘other’ Bromley theatre, complementing their offering with our own varied programme. We have found people to take responsibility for our social media presence and ensure that we use these platforms to publicise our work as widely as possible. This new website is now live and we welcome any feedback from you about the new format.

I think everyone who gives their time to BLT is pretty passionate about the Arts and Theatre  in particular. We continue to draw young actors to our stage and nurture not just talent but commitment as well. A lot of us who work here feel that BLT is our second job and I feel very proud of those many individuals who work an eight hour day with an hour’s commute either end, come to rehearsals four or five nights a week for six weeks or spend all weekend building a set plus run the box office or bar. There is a feeling that volunteers are a dying breed in the UK but it is certainly thriving at BLT.

Not all of you may be aware of the ways in which we work with charities and local groups. On one or two shows recently we have collected money for charities closely associated with the subject matter of the play. We are delighted to welcome a group of partially sighted audience members regularly to our shows and before the play begins the director will introduce the actors, describe the set and often suggest particular moments to listen out for during the performance. Each main house show has a charity dress rehearsal night when individual charities are allowed to sell the tickets to raise money. If you feel you would like to assist with organising these charity evenings and develop other ways we might be able to use our skills at BLT to benefit local groups please get in touch with me.