27/05/2011 - Permalink

Theatregoers help boost local economy

Related topics: Leisure, culture and heritage

Shrewsbury’s economy has received a £5 million boost as a result of Theatre Severn’s first 18 months of trading, says an independent report. 

Since it opened its doors in March 2009, Theatre Severn has consistently exceeded expectations and to date has sold just under 400,000 tickets in two years.  It has played host to a variety of local, national and international acts and performances, with many being sold out months before the event.  

Even in the current economic climate which began during the theatre’s opening year, audience levels have been maintained, bucking the national trend, and has seen sold out week-long runs for the likes of Blood Brothers and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  This can be attributed to the depth and breadth of programming, ensuring that all tastes are catered for and offering young people, as the venue’s future audience, an introduction to live theatre. 

As well as putting on top performances such as the English Youth Ballet and the highly- acclaimed Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the theatre has firmly established itself on the comedy circuit, attracting some of the biggest names in the business such as Jason Manford, Sarah Millican, Al Murray, Rhod Gilbert and Russell Kane – all sell out performances. 

The theatre has, as a result of this, given a much-needed boost to the local economy during these difficult times, with many local bars and restaurants capitalising on the audience numbers by offering pre-show and after-show meal deals; indeed, the independent report by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre stated that in the first 18 months of operation Theatre Severn had contributed a further £5 million into the local economy.  Theatre Severn is therefore a key part of the economic development of both Shrewsbury and Shropshire as a county. 

All of this success has led to the overall cost of running the theatre on an annual basis to fall by around 16 per cent (£98,856) to an operating cost of £538,057 in 2010/11. Indeed since the theatre opened in 2009 it has reduced its subsidy by 40 per cent against its original budget and is now one of the best performing regional venues of its size in the country.

Shropshire Council recognises the need to constantly strive for further efficiencies across all of its services during these difficult times, including Theatre Severn, and is confident this will achieved again during 2011/12 with a combination of increasing ticket sales and reducing costs to ensure Shropshire has both a financially-efficient theatre and one that brings cultural enrichment and delight to the people of Shropshire.