A CLACKS theatre group has been left devastated by reckless vandalism which has sparked even more financial difficulty.

Spotlight, a theatre company with a diverse cast of adults and children from across the Wee County, have not been able to perform their Christmas pantomime for the last two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.

With the loss of shows causing the group to take a huge financial hit, all associated with Spotlight were dismayed when the group's storage facility, which sits across from the site of the old Leisure Bowl, was broken into in October.

Not only was the storage facility broken into, all the inventory in there – including props, costumes and stage equipment – was completely destroyed.

Rhona Stark, a member of the theatre group, said: "We do an annual pantomime every December and we do a cabaret every year around May.

"Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row we've had to cancel.

"It's so hard, especially when you're in supermarkets and you bump into families who have members in the group and they're asking when we're starting back.

"Kids are clearly missing it; it's a real community vibe, and the support we get from parents of children in the group is amazing – they'll help out during the shows, selling programmes, backstage, in the changing rooms.

"It's a real team effort."

Upon discovering the break in and vandalism at the storage facility, Rhona said she was "absolutely gutted".

The group hire the facility and used funds raised to renovate the building.

She continued: "Quite a few years ago there was a fire in the building and when we decided we were going to use it, we raised funds to get the roof repaired and get it water-tight – so it's been a work in process.

On the vandalism, she added: "They've absolutely smashed it to smithereens. They've torn up costumes, the scenery, the extender, a lot of that has been damaged.

"There was water damage too. There was a window damaged so that will need replaced."

The repair costs will cause a headache for a group, who already put so much money into their shows.

Rhona continued: "We've got so many overheads and it's so expensive to put a show on. We have to pay for the hall, hire sound engineers, buy different materials.

"It costs thousands to put on a show.

"Because we've only really had five years of shows when Covid comes into consideration, there's not really any profit been made because all the money goes back in to shows.

"We don't really have any excess money."

The group will look to put on a show in May – if restrictions allow – to raise the money needed to restore the storage facility.

Rhona said: "We've provisionally booked it; the council has all our dates already.

"Our plan is to get a show on in May to see what we can do to make the workshop secure again."