POOLE’S Lighthouse faces more “unbearable anxiety” after a make-or-break decision on emergency help was delayed.

The venue's chances of survival hinge on an emergency grant from Arts Council England after its income was all but wiped out by the coronavirus lockdown.

But the decision, originally expected this week, has been delayed.

Lighthouse chief executive Elspeth McBain tweeted: “Decision on emergency funding from arts council to National Portfolio arts organisations now delayed until next week.

“Unbearable anxiety now drawn out further as we wait to see if we will survive.”

Poole's Lighthouse needs more cash to survive and might cancel panto

The Daily Echo reported in May that Lighthouse had run up a £350,000 shortfall in the first half of the year. It warned it might not survive the summer without more help.

Ms McBain said there were more than 800 large-scale organisations which could apply for the emergency grants, including famous venues such as the Royal Opera House and the South Bank Centre.

“I am sure that a great number will have applied and so very hard decisions are being made by the Arts Council,” she said.

“Those not successful are unlikely to survive so it’s an absolutely critical decision. It’s already been an excruciatingly long wait for a life-changing decision so it’s terribly frustrating to have to wait for another week.

“Since making our application we had expected to know by now when we could re open and so plan for recovery but this is still not forthcoming. The whole industry is lobbying government hard and the silence back is deafening and disheartening. Surely our politicians recognise the value of the extraordinary contribution that entertainment and culture makes to our economy, our social wellbeing.

“We know the value we and the other arts and entertainment venues and organisations make locally and I have been so heartened by the messages of support I’ve received from colleagues all around the UK. Hopefully in another week we will know our fate and maybe, just maybe, the government will have given us a clear roadmap of when we can get back to doing what we do best.”

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Lighthouse has seen 721 events cancelled, rescheduled or postponed after the closure of entertainment venues in March.

It will have to decide soon whether to go ahead with its panto.

Arts venues are not yet allowed to open for live performances, although they can host screenings.