A VOLUNTEER-led theatre has announced it will be going cashless this year, attracting backlash on social media.

The Plaza Theatre in Romsey will be card only from Sunday, March 31. The announcement on the theatre’s Facebook page was criticised by commentors who said it would consequently lose customers.

However, Neil Gwynne, chair of Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and former mayor, is confident that it was the right decision for the theatre’s long-term future.

Daily Echo: Neil GwynneNeil Gwynne (Image: Contributed)

Mr Gwynne, who's been a member for 22 years and chair on and off for 11 years, said: “We made the decision because the overwhelming majority pay by card anyway, they have done ever since Covid.

“There are a number of purchase points where we have to have a supply of cash which then has to be counted before and after every performance by our volunteers. It’s a lot more work than people actually realise. Volunteer time is not limitless, so any way in which we can reduce the demand on the time of our volunteers is something we look out for.

“There are some concerns in the population as a whole about everything going cashless but we are not in charge of the UK. We are one of the very few theatres still taking cash when we have no employees.

“When you make changes not everyone is going to like it but the result will be a slicker operation. When a change is announced people react but then they get used to it, it’s not going to be much of a long-term issue.

“In the summer we are going to do the biggest build that we have ever done and that’s because in 2023 we sold more tickets than we ever have.”

The dramatic society turned off commenting on both of its Facebook posts after outlining the reasons behind the decision.

While many slammed the move as damaging, others shared their support and highlighted that not having cash on site would also boost security.

Responding to commenters, the Plaza said: “The vast majority of our customers at the Plaza use card payments rather than cash. Probably 90 to 95 per cent on an average evening across the bar, green room and kiosk. If it was lower than that we wouldn’t be making this decision.”

Last year, the theatre in Winchester Road was awarded a £100,000 Community Infrastructure Levy from Test Valley Borough Council to help fund an extension of the stage house.

The Plaza Theatre is owned and operated by the Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.