Residents have expressed their shock and sadness at the closure of a popular theatre.

The Bridge Academy Trust announced last week that Braintree Arts Theatre would closed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Facebook the team who ran the Notley Road venue said it was with “sadness and regret” that the announcement was made last week.

The team said: “With sadness and regret, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic the Bridge Academy Trust have announced the closure of Braintree Arts Theatre.

“We would like to thank everyone who attended one or many of our shows in the past and supported the theatre.

“Thank you for your understanding. We’ll miss you. Phil, Rebecca and the team.”

Residents expressed their sadness at the news with some highlighting the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the arts industry.

Mr and Mrs Gleadow, who have been patrons at the theatre for a number of years, said they are “saddened and perplexed” at the decision.

They said: “This is a sad day for Braintree, which has a continually expanding population and is now left with no theatre.”

Others said the news is “tragic” and will be a great loss to the town.

In a letter to the trust, Richard Chaplin said the trust had been premature in the closure, which leaves the town without a theatre.

Mr Chaplin said: “The vast majority of adults are now vaccinated against this virus and the Government have decided to withdraw all restrictions on members of the public including at venues such as theatres like yours.

“It is likely the entertainment and culture starved population will rush to fill the vacuum and with the lack of similar facilities in the area, your theatre is ideally placed to provide the entertainment and profit.

“To close before you have had an opportunity to take advantage of this, especially as you already have a venue and infrastructure that are available outside school times, seems both wasteful and short sighted.”

The venue has said people who have already bought tickets for scheduled shows will receive refunds.

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