A steady flow of visitors headed into Burnham-On-Sea on Saturday (April 16th) when 48 live theatre performances were held in town centre shops to promote small businesses.
The unique day of shows was organised by Show of Strength theatre company with the help of Burnham-On-Sea Community Theatre Group as 12 original plays, written by people from the area, were performed in 15 shops.
The 10-minute shows attracted positive feedback from the audiences of between 20-60 people at each performance around the town.
Professional actors William Bateman, Corrinne Curtis, Kim Hicks, David Reakes, Lynda Rooke and Dee Sadler performed the shows, written by Richard Baum, Ian Bussell, Anita Comerford, Kim Cook, Brian Humphreys, Selina Keedwell, Jane Lee, Kim Lewis, Rebecca Stickland, Jacqui Strong and Lucy Thomas.
“I was really impressed – this is a great for Burnham – and I would like to see events like this held more often,” visitor Lin Lester told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
“The shows were very emotive and well written. I loved the seagull-themed performance outside the Bay View Cafe where we had gulls swooping over our heads on the seafront,” added visitor Georgina Ough.
Traders welcomed the visitors. Ron Bashford at Truckles farm shop told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The event had no impact on our sales, but it certainly filled our shop with people and drew attention to what we offer. Several people said they didn’t know we had a butcher like us in Burnham.”
Seafoods’ Ryan Mount added: “It was a very different event that actually worked well for us. It raised awareness of what we offer and it was great that people stayed around to talk to us after each show.”
Sarah Fisher at The Pet Shop said: “It was nice to see lots of extra people in the town – the showings we hosted here were crammed. Profit-wise, it made no difference to our normal Saturday sales, but it’s nice to see different events like this being held in the town.”
Lyn Lawrence at Sweet Shack, another of the venues, said: “We’ve been busy during the shows, but there’s been little increase in trade seen. It all helps, though, and it’s nice to see a new event increasing footfall.”
The event’s producer, Sheila Hannon, said: “It’s gone really well. As I’ve wandered around the town I’ve seen many of the shops busy with extra visitors and it’s been great to welcome people from as far afield as Bristol, London, Milton Keynes and Dawlish. We’d definitely like to run more events like this across Somerset and more in Burnham.”
The event’s project manager, Jacqui Strong, said: “This project has brought together schools, communities and the town centre – we already have plans for the next project! It was great to see people taking the time to visit and see some of the work that has been created by the talented local people of our area.”
The Town Council gave funding of £7,000 towards the project, and the other supporters were Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset Community Foundation, Co-Op Funeral Care, Police Community Trust Fund, Take Art and Burnham Chamber of Trade.
Town Centre Manager Bev Milner Simonds said: “Trading Local brought some different people into the town centre – some new faces are welcome for the town. A lot of people have been doing the trail around the venues in the town centre and there’s been positive feedback from traders. It’s also really encouraging that Jacqui and the rest of the team have been so thorough in their evaluation – I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their survey.”