GEORGE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS - In 1948, Mrs Mary Heunis formed the George Society of Arts with just a handful of members. Plays were staged in the Old Town Hall, which was not an ideal setting, as both visibility and acoustics were poor.
In 1962 the society, with just R200 in the bank and the enthusiastic support of the George public, leased an old café in Davidson Road and converted it into a 100-seat theatre. The society presented many activities, including 22 full productions, and the audiences grew in leaps and bounds. The society had set new standards for itself.
In 1969, the society’s 21st year, it became one of a handful of amateur drama groups in the country to acquire a theatre of its own. The building at the top of York Street, that had once housed a girls’ school, became the George Arts Theatre. Once again, the society had upped its standards.
In 2013 Oakhurst Insurance entered stage left. Their partnership assisted the society to achieve much longed-for extensions and a complete revamp of the theatre’s interior.
The Oakhurst Insurance George Arts Theatre is a place to gather, to entertain, to celebrate, to learn, to grow a love for the arts. Over the years many Georgians, from littlies in pre-school concerts to professional artists and all the enthusiastic amateurs in between, have given their all on our stage. The likes of Pieter-Dirk Uys and Ian von Memerty have immensely enjoyed bringing their shows to our theatre.
After the success of 2019 with Little Shop of Horrors just one of our successes, we bounded into 2020 with Clue on Stage in March and The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music planned for June and December.
Now a worldwide pandemic is threatening the life of this gem in George.
The George Society of Arts, one of the oldest in the country, is a non-profit organization. The society relies on income from its own productions, but also on the lease of the theatre spaces and costumes from our wardrobe.
As the theatre is owned by the society, the partnership with Oakhurst Insurance only extends to renovations and does not cover the day-to-day running costs. It survives from month to month and now simply has no income to pay the most basic of overheads or its loyal, accomplished staff.
The society has searched for financial assistance from a variety of different sources available at this time. However, it was unsuccessful, mainly due to the fact that we are an NPO. The society is now in dire straits.
The permanent closure of our theatre is not lurking in the wings anymore; it has taken centre stage.
The society once again needs the enthusiastic support of the George public. The road back to what we remember as “normal” is long. We ask for your support through a donation, sponsoring a theatre seat, participating in the online Talent Show, becoming a Theatre Club member or purchasing tickets for our online shows. Together we can overcome adversity.
The George Society of Arts wishes to ensure that, when this is all over, the doors of the Oakhurst Insurance George Arts Theatre may once again be thrown open and the Arts come Alive!
Thank you to each and every person who has donated and contributed to the Save Our Theatre drive. It is amazing to see how loved our theatre is and we appreciate every cent that came our way. We will be back, with your love and support, and we will continue entertaining you, our loyal patrons for years to come. This is one of many obstacles we have faced over the years, but the show WILL go on.
And it will be done with your support.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
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