The importance of The Alnwick Playhouse to communities in north Northumberland has been demonstrated by a new survey.
Research commissioned by the arts centre, along with Northumberland County Council, The Maltings in Berwick, the Phoenix Theatre in Blyth, and the Queen’s Hall, in Hexham, gives a comprehensive view of customer perceptions.
The findings deliver a very positive message about the four venues’ on-going importance to the communities they serve.
All 1,656 respondents believe the venues are important to their towns, with each distinctive local community valuing them highly as social and cultural hubs. Having access to a quality professional programme at a local venue is especially important to people living in the region’s more rural areas, though all the venues are considered to be at the heart of their communities.
Ninety-five per cent of respondents rate the quality and variety of the programme highly, and endorse the range of the venues’ programmes, as well as the value for money they offer, while 98 per cent consider the venues to be friendly, welcoming places.
At a time when public funding for the arts is under constant pressure from local and central government, the research provides clear evidence that the public believes that the venues should receive public funding.
All four venues operate as charities, working constantly to raise funds from as many different sources as possible to maintain and enhance the programmes which are so highly rated by customers.
At the end of last month, it was revealed that The Playhouse was unsuccessful in a bid to the Arts Council for funding, for the four-year period from 2018.
Reflecting on the survey, Playhouse manager Jo Potts said: “Delivering an entertaining and diverse, quality programme for film and live events is essential when welcoming more than 60,000 visitors every year and we aim to keep every customer happy.
“Our small staff team work really hard to deliver and the positive response from the survey is a brilliant reward in itself, but it also does let us know that we are getting it right.”