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Many theatre makers have not been able to work since last March - your support could be a lifeline for those in need now.


Hackney Empire, London

Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe launches crowdfunding campaign to help save Hackney Empire

First Published 25 June 2020, Last Updated 26 June 2020

It was announced today that Olivier Award-winning actor and Hackney Empire Patron Clive Rowe has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help Hackney Empire survive the devastating impact Covid-19 lockdown has had on its finances.

Clive Rowe has starred in over 14 of Hackney Empire’s legendary pantomimes (including 2008’s Mother Goose for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award) and said the Grade II* listed theatre ‘must survive’ in an appeal for public support.

The aim of the campaign is to raise over £50,000 in a public appeal with hopes to attract donations from £10. Hackney Empire is a registered charity and relies heavily on box office and earned income for over 85% of its funding. As lockdown is easing and other industries are beginning to open up, theatres that rely on bringing large numbers of people together remain under threat. Hackney Empire is appealing to its audiences and communities to help ensure we protect this legendary venue so that it can reopen its doors again in the future.

The Hackney Empire plays a vital and unique role in its community and to the cultural landscape at large. It is one of the UK’s most beautiful and best-loved venues and it welcomes audiences of over 200,000 each year from across Hackney’s communities.

Hackney Empire has been entertaining audiences for over a century.

It has been an iconic venue for over a century and is home to performing arts,  to generations of artists, audiences and community participants who come to see a rich variety of music, comedy, opera and theatre as well as work by young and emerging artists which the venue provides a vital platform for.

Hackney Empire’s legendary pantomime attracts audiences of over 50,000 annually and is one of the most-loved in the UK. As well as welcoming over 10,000 children from local schools, each year Hackney Empire provide hundreds of free tickets to local Housing Associations, Community Groups and organisations who work with vulnerable young people across East London.

In addition, each year the Hackney Empire: Creative Futures programme works with over 4,000 young people aged 14 – 25 from some of London’s most marginalised communities, using arts and culture to break down barriers to access, raise aspirations, and change lives. This incredible work has continued throughout the Covid-19 crisis as Hackney Empire has taken its activity online, providing support and engagement for hundreds of young people made more isolated by the lockdown.

Clive Rowe at the 2012 Olivier AwardsClive Rowe at the 2012 Olivier Awards

Clive Rowe said “Hackney Empire is an incredibly special place for me.  It brings people and communities together like no other venue I’ve experienced and its atmosphere is legendary. Generations of children have had their first experience of live entertainment at its Panto and its work with young people has transformed thousands of lives.

Theatres have been hit incredibly hard by lockdown, but a world without them is unimaginable. Places like Hackney Empire must survive, and you can help to make sure they do. Please support this campaign if you can and ensure that Hackney Empire can open its doors again for Panto, for music, for comedy and for everyone.”

Yamin Choudury, Artistic Director and Jo Hemmant, Executive Director of Hackney Empire said: “Hackney Empire will have its 120th birthday in 2021. It should have been a year-long celebration but our focus now is simply to ensure Hackney Empire survives to reach this milestone and that we are still able to play our part in delivering what our audiences and communities will need on the other-side of this. This Crowdfunder will help ensure that we can re-open and we hope that anyone who has come and experienced the unique atmosphere and welcome of Hackney Empire will want to get behind it.”

Hackney Empire need us, and we need them. The value they bring to our industry is invaluable and if you would like to donate, the crowdfunding campaign can be found here, on a website set up by the Mayor of London to help London’s businesses and organisations survive the impact of the Covid-19. Also backing the campaign is Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville, award-winning actor Richard Wilson and journalist Robert Peston.


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We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

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We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

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While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.