Playhouse welcomes contract extension and up to £100k to secure future in Weston

PUBLISHED: 17:22 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 27 August 2020

Cinderella at Weston Playhouse in 2019. Picture: McPhersonPhotography

Cinderella at Weston Playhouse in 2019. Picture: McPhersonPhotography

McPhersonPhotography

Weston Playhouse Theatre will open its doors to social-distanced audiences this autumn, after a deal has been struck to ensure the venue can entertain people until 2027.

The Playhouse in Weston will open in autumn.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONThe Playhouse in Weston will open in autumn. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Parkwood Theatres took over running the venue from North Somerset Council in 2011 under a ten-year contract, which will now continue to operate the Playhouse for a further five years.

The unitary authority will also give a grant payment of up to £100,000 towards the losses incurred by the theatre as a result of closing its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

The grant will be paid-for by the council’s coronavirus fund in support of Parkwood’s bid to gain further government money through the Culture Recovery Fund. There will be a profit-share arrangement for the extended contract period to enable the authority to recoup its costs.

Chicago Blues Brothers were set to perform at the Playhouse in 2020. Picture: Jonathon CuffChicago Blues Brothers were set to perform at the Playhouse in 2020. Picture: Jonathon Cuff

Executive member for culture and leisure, Cllr Caritas Charles, said: “Cultural venues across the country have suffered a huge blow and are not eligible for as much support as other industries to help their economic recovery. It is right that we step in and help, the theatre is our building, and we need it to operate successfully.”

Executive member for business and economy, Cllr Mark Canniford, said a ‘thriving theatre’ is ‘essential’ for Weston.

He added: “When people come to town for a show, they contribute much more to our local economy than the cost of the ticket. We need our theatre to be part of our town’s lifeblood, to support restaurants, pubs, shops and accommodation providers in the area. If we aren’t able to step in and support it, we would incur a greater cost to tax payers.”

The Opera Boys at Weston Playhouse this year.    Picture: Adam BayjouThe Opera Boys at Weston Playhouse this year. Picture: Adam Bayjou

Managing director at Parkwood Theatres, Tony Doherty, said the council’s financial support is ‘vital’ as the company cannot be commercially viable until it welcomes back full-house audiences through its doors.

He added: “The pandemic has been cruel to theatres. However, we are proud to have a robust and self-sufficient model at the Playhouse, more than doubling revenues since we took over. We have a brilliant team itching to get back to work, and we receive excellent support from Friends of The Playhouse group and theatre lovers in North Somerset. As we open our doors in the autumn, initially social-distancing means we can offer a limited programme while ensuring our venues are safe and clean to visit.”


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