The chairman of the group behind almost 40 years of hugely popular amateur musical shows in Clydebank has warned of the potentially disastrous impact of Covid-19 on its activities.

Andy McQueen has been a member of Clydebank Musical Society (CMS) for more than 20 years and now has three daughters who also attend the group.

He warned that the lack of consumer confidence around attending theatre events means there is little certainty that CMS will be able to break even on any shows.

His three young daughters now attend the society, he told the Post that the society could effectively practice performances while meeting social distancing guidelines but the lack of consumer confidence in attending shows means there is little certainty over breaking even on show expenditure.

The society has had to postpone both of its 2020 shows, 9 to 5 and High School Musical, due to the pandemic, with the first of those called off on the night of the dress rehearsal back in March.

Now, according to Andy, there are fears that concerns over the spread of coronavirus could stop people buying tickets for future shows.

With some CMS productions costing more than £20,000 to stage, and the vast majority of the society’s income coming from ticket sales, Andy told the Post the result could be “financial catastrophe” for the group.

They are now concerned that ticket sales will not be high enough due to concerns over coronavirus spreading for them to go ahead in 2021.

CMS will celebrate their 40th Anniversary in 2021, with some original members still volunteering at the theatre group.

However, with some shows costing upwards of £20,000 to run and the vast majority of income coming from ticket sales, there could be ‘“financial catastrophe,” if people do not show up, Andy has explained.

The dad-of-six said: “To say there were tears and snotters when the shows got cancelled, on the evening of the dress rehearsal of all days, was a real shame.

“Everyone works incredibly hard, and for there to be no confirmed date to reschedule for, it has been hard to watch the hard work of the kids and adults go to waste.

“We are in a position now where we have a good committee and a strong team who are working hard to find ways to make it work.

“Theatre isn’t something people just ‘fall’ into. It’s hard work and dedication which gets you to a leading role, but it’s a labour of love.

“We are working towards performing this year’s shows next year, as we already have the rights secured to the scripts, and the shows were looking really promising before we got ‘rained off’.

“But the safety of our cast, members and supporters is too important to risk going ahead any sooner.”

CMS is due to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, with some of the original members from 1981 still volunteering today.

In addition the disappointment and upset caused by a lack of shows, and no rehearsals going ahead in the near future, Andy told how he is more concerned and aware of the implications this has had on those who depend on the arts sector for their livelihood.

Andy, who also works full-time running a heating business, added: “Most of us volunteer for CMS. My kids are now in it after me taking part in the juniors, which brought me back. However, our sound and lighting engineer has had to take up a new job fitting fibre cables in homes as all his contracts are cancelled.

“He had been fully booked from March to October and now he isn’t doing the job he loves. That is more heartbreaking than anything else.

“We are not a profit organisation, but we need to be able to break even. We cannot commit to expenditure if we are operating at a loss.”

Andy, as well as the other members of CMS, hope next year’s performance will be attended by their many Clydebank supporters from across the past 40 years, allowing the society to continue for many more to come.