The Torch Theatre is facing one of its darkest productions to date after announcing a major funding gap of £250,000.

The shortall is predominantly the result of a 'forced' 93% funding cut by cash-strapped Pembrokeshire County Council, although audience figures have seen major setbacks as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.

Now, in a last-ditch attempt to avoid widespread cuts to its services, the Torch has launched a plea for financial assistance and support from the public, to salvage the theatre that has been flying the flag for the arts in Pembrokeshire for over 45 years.

“This is a particularly sad and poignant situation as the Torch has worked so incredibly hard these last few years to respond to the problems that we've faced,” said Ben Lloyd, executive director and chief executive of the Torch.

"Cinema figures have seen a massive drop over the last 12 months, with a £170,000 reduction in its income.

Western Telegraph: Ben LloydBen Lloyd (Image: Torch Theatre)

"Yet hand-in-hand with this, we’ve achieved record audiences, with almost 10 per cent of the population of Pembrokeshire coming to our Christmas pantomime alone, a record schools’ attendance across the year and a fantastic new partnership with the Milford Haven Port Authority.

“But the next two or three months are going to be critical.”

Unless the £250,000 shortfall is sourced within the current financial year, the theatre will be forced to make dramatic cuts to its social sector.

“We shall continue producing and delivering our programme of events, but its our community services which will very sadly have to be cut unless additional funding is found,” continued Ben.

“This is something that we’re desperate to preserve as we can see the way in which it fufils and enriches the lives of so many.”

Now, to help secure the funding, the Torch is asking for support from the public.

This could include:

  •  a one-off gift;
  • becoming a regular donor;
  • joining a membership scheme;
  • becoming a Friend of the Torch as a volunteer;
  • leaving a legacy, or
  •  buying a ticket and enjoying a meal in Café Torch.

There are also a range of opportunities where businesses can work together through partnership arrangements, by sponsoring specific activities or by advertising with the theatre and reaching audiences of up to 100,000 from across Pembrokeshire and beyond.

“We’ve never asked for anything like this before, but supporting the Torch means supporting the economy in Pembrokeshire,” added Ben.

"We pay back into our community in spades, as our work supports local businesses, schools and colleges, and the tourist economy. We utilise over 50 local suppliers, we drive hundreds of overnight stays and thousands of pre-show meals each year for local businesses and we provide unique employment and training opportunities.

"As an integral part of Milford Haven we plan to be here for the benefit of generations to come.”

Ben's plea has been endorsed by Torch patron, Griff Rhys Jones.

“Every visit that you make to the Torch is a form of support and a guarantee of entertainment,” he said. “Don't just think about it - do go, see it, enjoy it and save it. Let's keep this flame alive."

For anyone wishing to offer support of any kind, email, ring 01646 401714 or visit the Box Office to talk to staff.