A THEATRE group which brings tog-ether disabled and able-bodied performers fears for its future after its funding was cut.
The Vision drama group, which has about 30 members including some with learning and physical disabilities, is hoping to find the cash which will allow it to continue.
Some of the group’s members, who range from 14 to over 40 years, have a variety of disabilities, including Asperger’s and Down’s Syndromes, autism and learning difficulties.
At their base in St Jude’s Parish Hall, the members enjoy the lifelong friendships discovered through a mutual love of acting, and enjoy nothing more than working on their next production.
But South Tyneside Council says it has done all it can for the club, based at the St Jude’s Terrace site in Laygate, South Shields.
Council funding of £10,000 a year helped pay for the group’s running costs, as well as salaries for youth workers and group leader Sandie Malia.
Extra cash for productions was raised by the group itself.
But now its future is uncertain, and depends on being able to find alternative funding.
Sandie, who formed the group in 2004, said: “For a lot of people who come along to the group, it’s the only chance they have to get out of the house and meet other people.
“We’ve lost 100 per cent of our funding, so if we don’t find it from somewhere else soon, we’re going to have to shut down.
“I know the members will be devastated and I’ll be gutted for them.”
She added: “It’s difficult for us to apply for funding, because we’re such an unusual bunch and we don’t really fit into any particular category.
“We can’t apply for funding for special needs groups, because we need to explain that we have able-bodied kids.
“If we apply for funding for young people, we have to leave out the older ones, and that just wouldn’t be fair.
“The whole point of The Vision is that it’s open to everyone.”
The group, which meets twice a week, regularly puts on performances for friends and families.
Member Claire McShane, 28, from Jarrow, said: “We’ve got a big play coming up about the life of St Cuthbert, and we’re really looking forward to it.
“I’ve been a member for about seven years and I joined because I’ve always loved performing arts.
“I love being part of The Vision and we’ll all be very upset if we can’t continue.”
Ms Malia added: “The group does a lot to help the members develop social skills and boost their confidence, and it would be a huge miss for them if it shut down. I just really hope that there’s someone out there who can help us keep going.
“The club doesn’t cost much to run, but there is a cost involved, and the subs paid by the members just aren’t enough, and it’s not fair to put the price up much higher.
“Even if it’s just enough to keep us going for a little while, it’ll mean the world to the members.”
Anyone interested in helping the group should contact Ms Malia on 296 2853, or go along to meet the members.
The Vision meets at St Jude’s Parish Hall on Wednesdays, from 6-9pm, and Thursdays, from 6.30-9pm.
The Vision’s next performance, The Life Of St Cuthbert, will be at St Jude’s Church, on Wednesday, March 27.
The 7pm show celebrates the British Library’s purchase of the Cuthbert Gospels, and their return to Durham.
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