Playhouse celebrates a fine year

Alnwick Playhouse.
Alnwick Playhouse.

Alnwick Playhouse is celebrating a record-breaking year, with bumper box-office sales.

The positive news comes as part of the Trustee’s Annual Report for 2014/15 and will make happy reading for those involved with the community arts venue.

The Playhouse generated its best ever revenue in ticket sales, with a total income in excess of £360,000. Nearly 20,000 people attended live theatre and more than 20,000 came to see film and streaming events.

The ticketed audience figures to the combined live, film and community programme increased from 34,306 in 2011/12 to 39,982 in 2014/15.

The Playhouse is very much a community hub, and, as well as being a cinema and live performance area, it also hosts public art exhibitions, runs a café and holds a range of workshops, among other things.

As a result, the total number of visitors rose to 60,802 in 2014/15, compared to 52,727 in 2011/12.

The report also highlights future developments at the venue, which includes improving the seating in the auditorium.

Reflecting on the year 2014/15, the report states: ‘The Playhouse has run smoothly and efficiently under the management of Jo Potts and the small core team which consists of only six full-time staff and four part-time and three key freelance members.

‘The Playhouse has developed a strong business model, which now includes the introduction of the new café.’

‘The Playhouse, in relation to other Northumberland venues, provides extremely good value for money with competitive annual audience figures.’

The venue’s programme featured a range of entertainment, including amateur and professional productions.

Theatre manager Jo Potts said: “I want to thank everyone for our record-breaking year of sales in 2015. Over the last four years since I have been in post, there has been a steady growth.

“Each year, we improve on numbers and income, so it is not down to one event, but a more constant development of our programme to attract different audience types.”

The report states that the main complaint by the majority of Playhouse users is the uncomfortable seats in the auditorium and lack of legroom, which needs to be to addressed if the venue ‘is to attract modern audiences who are used to cinema seats and good leg room’.

A Playhouse auditorium refurbishment feasibility study has been requested to identify ways to improve the seating and legroom and the cost of the transformation will be explored.

Fund-raising for core funding will also be the focus for the forthcoming year.

During 2014/15, the Playhouse’s Friends’ scheme brought in more than £12,000, with nearly 600 memberships taken during the year, while the Front Row initiative – launched to allow those supporters of the Playhouse who were able to make contributions in excess of the Friends’ subscription to do so – raised a total of £5,620. There were 24 members.

Front Row members and Friends are given a variety of concessions. They in turn support Playhouse volunteers.

Other 2014/15 highlights included securing £15,000 of Arts Council funding to develop the Playhouse’s arts development programme.