DAME Judi Dench has urged people to show their support for the arts amid the coronavirus pandemic by visiting a Sussex theatre.

The 85-year-old actress appeared in a video on Twitter today, calling on people to go and see shows at the Capitol Theatre in Horsham.

The arts venue, which has a cinema and a theatre as well as a gallery, has recently reopened its theatre with new Covid-19 safety measures.

Dame Judi said: “We’ve all been affected by the coronavirus and the arts have been affected very badly.

The Argus: The Capitol TheatreThe Capitol Theatre

“If you feel like it, go along to the Capitol Theatre in Horsham because they’ve opened to show films and just last Friday they’ve opened the theatre as well – all Covid-friendly.

“So you can go along and have an evening and support the arts. We’d be very grateful.”

Matthew Effemey, operations manager at the Capitol, said his team were “bowled over” when they received the video with support from the Shakespearian actress.

Mr Effemey said: “We were not expecting it at all.

“We’ve been running a campaign for a while to try and get high profile supporters but this one just came out of the blue.

“Judi is really passionate about the arts.”

Capitol Theatre closed in March and reopened its cinema in July, but there has been no live shows at the venue for more than six months.

Mr Effemey hopes people will take advantage of the new live programme of events at the theatre, including comedy from popular German stand-up Henning Wehn and A Night at The Musicals with West End star Oliver Tompsett.

He said: “Weve got half term coming up and we’re hoping to be really busy.

“Our cinema numbers have been on the rise and now we really want to focus on our live programme.

“It’s really safe as we have a new one-way system and we’re only operating at 20 to 30 per cent capacity.”

The theatre is one of 1,385 venues in England to have received a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund earlier this week. 

Following a successful application from the venue, the government and the Arts Council granted £182,000 to Capitol Theatre from the its £257 million support package, in the first round of a funding boost to help arts organisations and venues recover from the impact of coronavirus.

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Mr Effemey said: “We were really lucky as we got everything we asked for.

“It’s great news as it will help us prepare more for next year.

“It’s been a really tough time financially but we’re all knuckling down and we’re lucky to have a great team.

“We’re just trying to get the message out there that it’s safe for people to come here. We’d like to think that we’re over the worst of it, now we’re open again.”

Judi Dench, who lives in Surrey, has been campaigning to help theatres and arts institutions throughout the pandemic.

In May, the James Bond star urged people to donate money to help save the Archway Theatre in Horley, not far from Gatwick.