The arts plays an important role in Lyme life

The Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis was among arts venues across the UK to send out a ‘red alert’ on Wednesday evening (photo by Richard Austin)

BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder – that’s what they say about art. It’s subjective and lots of people might say ‘I’m not into art’ – but whether it’s admiring a picture on the wall, listening to the radio or binge-watching your favourite series on Netflix, the arts seeps into many of our lives one way or another.

I’ve never considered myself particularly artistic. I took A-level art mainly because the course was known for the best school trips abroad, but the entire class was more skilled than me with a paintbrush and I was often told off for spending too much time on my English or media studies coursework and not enough time on art. It all worked out in the end.

As a shy student I never really dabbled in the performing arts either. I was the silent shepherd in the back of the nativity scene and was given one brief line in a Woodroffe production of ‘Oliver Twist’.

But just because I don’t consider myself ‘arty’ doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the local arts scene and the important part in plays in our community. From painters to potters, seamstresses to sculptors, Lyme is filled to the brim with artistic shops and boutiques, workshops and galleries, of which I often peer through the window thinking ‘I wish I could do that!’.

Thankfully, most of these have been able to reopen since lockdown restrictions were eased, and the bustling Town Mill is once again hosting regular exhibitions, with the popular Julie Oldfield – resident artist at the Harbour Inn – currently displaying her latest work in the Malthouse Gallery.

But it is the performing arts sector which is still struggling through the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Marine Theatre – Lyme’s much-praised little theatre by the sea – has sadly stood closed for six months now.

The Marine was lit in red on Wednesday evening in solidarity with arts venues across the country to raise awareness about the threat of job losses in the sector, with many saying they have slipped through the net of government support.

The Marine is now not expected to fully reopen until next year as hosting performances under the current guidelines is not financially viable. Many Lyme residents, myself included, will be greatly missing their regular trips to the theatre.

They say you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, and how lucky were we – for a town of this size – to have our own theatre attracting top names and such professional productions? To lose such a gem would, I believe, be a devastating blow to the town.

The theatre has launched an online fundraising campaign to help it through the pandemic and to ensure it can eventually reopen – you can find out more and donate at

And while I’m still not prepared to tread the boards anytime soon, I’m not quite as shy as I once was. As well as presenting video news bulletins on the LymeOnline website, you can now listen to my weekly updates on Lyme Bay Radio, every Friday at 5pm.

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 2546 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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