Sudbury: Volunteers in the spotlight at Quay Theatre

DROP by Sudbury’s Quay Theatre this week and the extent to which the popular playhouse relies on volunteers to keep its operation running becomes clear.

Visitors won’t hear the usual sound of actors rehearsing but instead the noise of drilling and sawing as people give up their time to carry out an array of jobs as part of the theatre’s annual maintenance week.

No one is more giving than Quay trustee Michael Harding, who has sacrificed a week’s holiday from work to oversee operations.

He said: “We are upgrading the fire alarm system, carrying out prepatory work for a disabled toilet, decorating a run-down rehearsal room and carrying out professional safety checks. We simply don’t have the budget to pay people to do this work.”

But according to theatre co-ordinator, Nicki Murphy, also a volunteer, this current manual work represents only a small percentage of the total contribution made by volunteers to the Quay. She estimates the theatre’s 50 or so volunteers collectively donate 9,000 man hours a year free of charge to keep the theatre going.

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She said: “ We have one full-time paid employee and several part-time staff and the rest are volunteers. From front of house, box office and bar staff to people who present talks free of charge, there is no way we could open daily and offer the programme we do without volunteers.” The work is being carried out this week in preparation for a series of summer workshops aimed at children and young adults. Visit for more details.

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