Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds to offer weddings to increase income

Natalie Woolman

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is to host weddings within its Regency auditorium in a bid to create a new income stream for the venue.

Staff at the theatre are currently applying for a marriage licence and hope that the first wedding will take place in September this year. It held a wedding fair last weekend to generate interest.

Colin Blumenau, chief executive and artistic director of Theatre Royal, said hosting weddings was an “indirect response” to cuts to the venue’s subsidy as staff at the theatre had been talking about it as an option for several years. Blumenau added it was one of a package of measures being planned to generate extra income.

He said: “We put on everything from opera to product launches so I don’t suppose a wedding is going to be that much different.

“We are looking at anything that will sure up our revenue base – conferences, meetings, additional bar and restaurant revenue, training courses – you name it, we are trying it. And if you are looking for an interesting wedding venue, there is nowhere better. It is a fantastic building.”

Weddings will take place on the stage itself, and Blumenau estimated that the auditorium would comfortably fit around 200 guests in the 352-seat theatre. The events will be scheduled between May and September, when the theatre is quietest.

Meanwhile, Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre recently introduced a booking fee of £1 per ticket to generate more revenue.

The move, announced at the end of last year for performances from last week onwards, is designed to cushion the theatre against local authority and Arts Council England cuts.

Speaking to The Stage, Geoffrey Rowe, chief executive of the Everyman, said: “It was clear to make next year’s budget balance, we needed to find a new income source so we instituted it in the autumn.”

Rowe added that he chose the level of the fee, £1, because he thought “it would raise a reasonable sum but it wasn’t going to put the public off” and that there has been no change in ticket sales as a result so far.

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