Friends of Shanklin Theatre

Purpose of FOST

The purpose of the Friends of Shanklin Theatre (FOST) is to encourage public support for Shanklin Theatre, provide volunteers for the day-to-day running of the theatre and raise funds to benefit the Theatre.

FOST is a subsidiary of Shanklin Theatre & Community Trust, Registered Charity No. 1146834.

FOST are an increasing group of people from the Isle of Wight and beyond who have Shanklin Theatre at heart. Many are also dedicated volunteers, helping with the day-to-day running of the Theatre.

FOST now have over 600 members, 150 of whom are volunteers. By becoming a Friend of the Theatre, you will help fund essential work required to keep Shanklin Theatre open whilst receiving excellent benefits. Find more details here:  By becoming a volunteer, you will help the day to day running of the theatre. The jobs are varied, interesting and require many different skills. Find more details here: or email friends@shanklintheatre.com

Brief History of the Friends of Shanklin Theatre

In 2007, the Isle of Wight council decided that the Theatre was no longer financially viable and gave notice it would close. Reacting to this threat and to fight the closure, a group of dedicated enthusiasts formed The Friends of Shanklin Theatre (FOST) in 2008; they began dialog with Shanklin Town Council on creating a Trust to take over the Theatre. In 2010 with the assistance of the Theatre’s Trust organisation and English Heritage, Shanklin Theatre gained Grade II Listed Building status.

The Isle of Wight Council negotiated a transfer operation and in April 2010 the keys were handed over. The employment of both and very experienced sound & Lighting Technician and the Stage Manager were also transferred. Finally, in 2013, Shanklin Theatre and Community Trust owned the Theatre.

In June 2012, FOST volunteers were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) for their hard work in re-establishing Shanklin Theatre.

On 27th March 2014, Shanklin Theatre was delighted to welcome a visit by TRH Earl and Countess of Wessex Edward and Sophie. The occasion was to honour the achievements of the Theatre in establishing a role in the community for the Island and tourism and to coincide with the Theatre’s 80th Anniversary.

Between 2014 and the present day (2019), Shanklin Theatre and the FOST volunteers are proud to have received many awards notably the Tripadvisor Hall of Fame for 5 years of consecutively receiving the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. In 2018 and 2019, FOST successfully applied for and won the Community Action Awards in the Arts & Heritage category and Overall Runner-Up.

On the 2nd October 2018, Shanklin Theatre celebrated its 10th Anniversary of saving the theatre from closure and possible demolition.

This milestone celebration marked a decade since a small band of dedicated volunteers saved Shanklin Theatre from closure. In these last ten years, the Theatre has grown exponentially, and is now fully recognised as a major venue on the UK touring circuit. The theatre also supports many local dance, drama and music groups from across the Isle of Wight. This includes the Island Savoyards, First Act, the Pepperpot Players, Spotlight IOW and the Footsteps Dance Studio; all were proudly invited to perform at this special and unique non-profit show.

The evening’s entertainment also included a marvellous interspersed audio / visual presentation exploring the theatre’s history from its construction in 1878. This included key dates, such as the change from Institute to Town Hall in 1913, the Second World War 1945, the boom years from 1950, the threat of closure and revival leading up to the present day. See more details of this event and photos here. For more historic facts on the theatre building, go to the Shanklin Theatre and Community Trust website link.

Updated by Michael Beston – July 2019.