Panto’s Charity Support

Where else can you go to a panto performance for £6? Not many places, we reckon. Nevertheless Grand Panto Dame Paul Mellor wants everybody to know how the finances of the RSC work: the truth is remarkable.

Thanks to all who came and supported the Rodmell Stage Company’s recent production of Robin Hood. We very much hope you enjoyed it. We understand some people are curious to know what happens to the profits that we accrue each year. Maybe now is a good time to remind ourselves how it all began and how the way we run it has evolved a little bit over the years.

Our very first production in 2001 – starring Rodmell Heart-throb Abby Benham-Wood and her legendary sister, Alex – was put on to raise funds to send a local youngster with severe learning difficulties on a trip to achieve his ambition and swim with dolphins.

As the years passed we realised we were wasting a good deal of money on hiring lights and so we kept back some of the profits to purchase second-hand lighting and controls. We are happy to lend these to any villager who wants to borrow them for their own production; all we ask is that you return them with an electrical safety check performed.

Recently our regular costume hire shop – where our annual bill would be typically £200-300 – closed down so we decided to purchase some of their stock. This reduces our annual hire bill but doesn’t eliminate it completely. We could only do that if we did the same Panto each year and – whilst I acknowledge that most of the jokes are repeated – I think a change of set and theme is generally desirable . But, as with the lights they are available for anybody in the Village to borrow. – yes, even my frocks.

Over the years we have donated to local causes – the Church and the School – as well as international charities (remember the tsunami?)  in times of crisis. If anybody want full details or to inspect our accounts please contact Spencer Prosser and make an appointment to do so.

All of us are volunteers and many give of their  time generously to sit in a freezing tent at the back of the Hall and put on the show. Individuals claim for expenses such as costumes, paint and props  but many don’t bother and actually contribute said items because they love taking part and are proud to be involved in such a village effort. The drinks that are enjoyed (needed?) by the cast during the performance and the take-away meal we share after the last night are paid for by the volunteers themselves.

Andy Stewart is a professional musician who gives us 10 days of his time free of charge because he loves Rodmell, has family and friends here and enjoys being part of this annual event. To do so he has to turn down serious work. On his behalf and on behalf of all those who contribute so generously of their time, energy and skill I would like to make a couple of things absolutely clear.

  1. We are a Society not a Charity.
  2. None of us receives a penny in compensation, food, drink * or benefit in kind.
  3. Any expenses are recorded, documented and reimbursed .

*Lucie and Jon bought me several pints of Harvey’s because the pub had enjoyed a bumper weekend in what is otherwise a very long January. I have also been known to frequent the place from time to time.

We decide informally with the society which causes to support. This year we donated £500 to the Lewes Food Bank in December and a further £380 raised via the Raffle to the same worthy cause .  We have additional funds to ensure the pump is primed for future productions but if there are any village causes that need support please approach Spencer or myself.

Perhaps we should have made more of a song and dance about the money we give to charity but most of were brought up to think that to do so is rather poor form.

Paul Mellor

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