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Dubai's Courtyard Playhouse Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Popular local theatre Courtyard Playhouse said it’s staring at the prospect of permanent closure because of coronavirus.

The KHDA-licensed academy has been instructed to close its door until April 4 following a recent government mandate directing all training institutions to cease activity to halt the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Kemsley Dickinson, who founded Courtyard Playhouse with wife Tiffany Schultz, fears the closure will bring down the curtains on the seven-year-old theatre, located in the Al Quoz 1 neighbourhood of Dubai.

Heartfelt message

“As a family business with overheads and staff to pay, being closed for this long with no income – and not knowing how much longer we might be closed for – is completely unsustainable. It is with enormous sadness that we are facing permanent closure as a result,” Dickinson, a former drama teacher, said in a heartfelt message on the theatre’s website and newsletter.

“Given the current predicament, if we are able to survive somehow, I can categorically say that our venue will now not open its doors to the public until May at the earliest and more likely June or July, Dickinson and Shultz said in subsequent joint statement to Gulf News.

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Dubai's Courtyard Playhouse Image Credit: Supplied

Fundraiser

In order to tide over the crisis, Courtyard Playhouse has now launched a fund-raising campaign called Save Our Theatre.

By Monday, it had raised nearly 25 per cent of the Dh386,000 it said it needed to avert a shutdown.

Pegging estimated losses at Dh400,000 by April 30, Dickenson said they are unable to meet their financial obligations as they have no income coming their way.

“We are bakers who cannot bake. And our content is about connecting in a live environment - and it cannot be done online,” he told Gulf News.

“Over the past seven years, our growing family of supporters has helped us build a truly unique and wonderful theatre – a place where children, young people and adults are given the chance to express themselves, gain in confidence and ultimately transform their lives through theatre.

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Dubai's Courtyard Playhouse Image Credit: Supplied

“From now on until April 4, the theatre is trying to raise enough money to survive the enforced closure and ensure they can open their doors again once the coronavirus threat has subsided,” the theatre said in a message said, adding that every penny from the fund-raiser will go towards keeping the theatre open.

Asked if they have permission to raise funds, Dickinson and Shultz said: “The authorities have advised us that sales of your product portfolio, goods, shares or assets are legitimate as always, but asking for straight donations is not and we are staying within their parameters and guidelines.”

The company said they are selling seat plaques, vouchers for future workshops, company shares besides tangibles that correspond to their business license.

“We are all doing what we can because we believe that the Playhouse is a cultural asset to the UAE, has been for years and that it deserves at least a chance to survive,” the duo said via email.