Staff at a popular town-centre theatre are facing redundancy as the charity battles for survival, with theatre groups branding the potential loss “an absolute disaster”.

Trustees of the Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre, Workington, announced on Tuesday they have been forced to put staff at risk of redundancy, with the Covid-19 pandemic named a “contributing factor”.

As a registered charity, the theatre relies heavily on the income of ticket sales, food, drinks and venue hire.

Despite being five years into a 10-year subsidiary period with Allerdale Council, trustees said that “despite the best efforts of their team, income has failed to keep pace in line with the subsidy decline”.

And WADAMS Chairman and regular performer at the Carnegie, Eric Finlay, said although the decision may be the only option, losing the theatre and its staff would be “a tragedy” for the town.

“People don’t realise how much they use the theatre, and with the shows that we do, travelling shows, office facilities and the cafe, the Carnegie is so much more than just a theatre,” he said.

“To lose people from the theatre or the theatre itself, from a WADAMS perspective, would be huge loss and an absolute tragedy.”

He added: “The Trust has done a fantastic job, and put so much money into the theatre – to lose a performance venue like this one would just be an absolute disaster, and such a waste of all the hard work everyone’s put in.”

In an attempt to save their staff and protect the trust from collapse, trustees are planning on holding consultations with each staff member to establish a plan on how to avoid the worst case scenario of redundancies being made.

Lee Martin-White, chairman of the trust, stressed how difficult the decision of potential job losses has been, and said: “We have an incredible team of people who have shown enormous commitment and resilience to the Carnegie.

“This is a very sad and difficult time for everyone involved.

“We thank everyone for their continued and invaluable support.

“We will be back as soon as we can.”