The Picton Little Theatre is gearing up for a busy 2013, with a record number of sponsors and management's eyes set on a growing list of entertainment.
More than 56 Picton businesses have begun financially backing the theatre in Dublin St since manager Bruce Anderson began approaching potential sponsors in July last year, with most coming on at the $100 bronze level of support.
After a string of theatre and standup comedy performances in the second half of last year, the theatre is going through a secondary planning phase to determine how to keep increasing the number of performers using the venue, Mr Anderson says.
"We got off to an amazing start about six months ago. Now we're going into a planning phase to organise how we're going to make the most of the year and keep talent turning up in Picton.
"We're moving forward with a lot of projects like the puppet theatre, for which we'll be looking for performers to take up training very soon."
The theatre's annual meeting will be held this evening and nominations will be taken on who will be on this year's management committee.
The sponsors have collectively raised more than $13,000, and the Marlborough District Council gave the theatre a $3000 arts and heritage grant in January, which will be spent on new curtains and lighting to help accommodate the large-scale children's puppet theatre.
"The audience will be sitting on the stage to see the theatre because it's so big it won't fit on the stage. It'll be a great change for the audience, but we need to make sure it also has a full refurbishment for the actors.
"To have 56 local business on board gives a huge scope for development and with council support, now we can really start to look at how we're going to get more shows," he says.
One of the theatre's principal sponsors, Sounds Air, is offering the first deal only open to other sponsors, six flights to Wellington for $450 - a 21 per cent discount.
Without the support, the theatre would not be able to function.
"We've listened to the sponsors and they've almost unanimously decided they want things happening at the theatre during the beginning and end of the season to attract more tourists."
Arts enthusiasts can look forward to live theatre performances, standup comedy, and more throughout the year, he says.
- The Marlborough Express