A THEATRICAL production company is appealing for help after the Island's swift move through the Covid tiers shut down its annual pantomime, leaving it in a precarious financial position.

Spotlight (IOW) Ltd is run by husband-and-wife team Jayne and James Derbyshire, who over the last 12 years have produced the summer season and annual Christmas pantomime at Shanklin Theatre.

Having to close down the panto, Rapunzel, at just a day's notice, cost the company £24,700 — on top of a year with no trade.

James said: "We are on the brink of collapse after trying to support the arts and people's spirits over Christmas.

"After not operating in any capacity during 2020, following the Tier One announcement for the Island we made the decision to put on our annual pantomime in a Covid compliant way.

"Our aim was to bring a little joy to the community at Christmas, particularly for the children, in what otherwise had been a very tough year.

"Financially we were running on a break-even status, due to the capacity of the theatre being reduced to just 27 per cent to keep within government guidelines.

"We opened on December 19 and had 18 shows scheduled across Christmas and New Year.

"On December 23, it was announced we were moving to Tier Three overnight, meaning after just five performances we had to close with immediate effect and refund all the tickets, as well as paying our cast, crew and creatives."

Isle of Wight County Press: Spotlight's Rapunzel at Shanklin Theatre.Spotlight's Rapunzel at Shanklin Theatre.

Spotlight has struggled to qualify for any grant funding, with no premises and limited qualifying assets.

The company also runs a performing arts schools, and provides educational workshops for schools visiting the Island and French students as part of their English language studies. None of this has been able to take place.

James said: "The frustration is we are trying desperately to save Spotlight and the stage school, but seem to be getting nothing back.

"If anyone has any ideas or feels they can help us in any way, please get in touch."

The couple have been in touch with Island MP Bob Seely, and hope to be part of a pilot scheme to re-build the Island's arts and culture.

Mr Seely is also helping them with an Arts Council grant application.

He said: "I am writing to the Arts Council to see if I can do anything to help. Companies like Spotlight are really important in what they deliver to the Island, economically and socially.

"I will be supporting their bid for money and will continue trying to help them."

Read more: Review of Rapunzel at Shanklin Theatre