Fulltime theatre and cafe staff will be on furlough from next week as a popular theatre contemplates a worrying future.

Lee Martin-White, chairman of the Carnegie theatre in Workington, said the charity had no choice but to put five administrative staff and four cafe workers.

“We are also trying to find out if there is any Government help for the many causal workers we employ,” he said.

On social media the theatre group described the move as "heartbreaking," but said the decision would protect staff, artists and the public.

Mr Martin-White said the closure of the theatre was “very worrying.”

He said: “We depend on the many events we have to keep it going. We have an ever-decreasing grant from Allerdale council. This year it was £75,000 which is less than our wage bill.”

He said it was only the Government's pledge to help that created hopes of keeping the theatre viable.

Staff have been working this week to contact customers for whom they have up-to-date contact details.

Those without up-to-date details will be contacted as soon as possible after staff return to work.

Cancelled events include popular Irish singer Dominic Kirwan, comedian and actor Dave Spikey and Ballet UK's presentation of Giselle.

Manager Karen Thompson said this has been a difficult time but she has been buoyed up by the support of the public:"We have had such lovely messages. Some of them have literally brought me to tears. This is a difficult time for everyone but we are helped by the wonderful people out there."

The final word from the Carnegie was: "We look forward to brighter times and welcoming you back through our doors.

Thank you all for your support and understanding during this difficult time. Stay safe and look after each other."