Theatres work together to access cheap electricity deals

The National Theatre, Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall have clubbed together to form an energy-buying collective that will enable them to purchase electricity at lower rates.

The scheme, called Arts Basket, is being run by energy consultancy Power Efficiency. The group is also inviting other theatres and arts venues to join the initiative.

Carrie Simpson, account manager at Power Efficiency, said: “By combining forces, the Arts Basket enables us to bulk purchase their energy at favourable wholesale rates giving significant cost savings to these institutions.

“Creating an Arts Basket dedicated to arts venues has many benefits. The flex contract enables our customers to have access to the wholesale market, which is not available on standard ‘fixed price’ contracts. The contract is governed by a purchasing strategy and performance of the contract is measured against the market and set budgets, providing complete transparency for our customers. In 2008/9 our customers on flexible contracts benefited from savings of over £35 million, delivering savings ranging between 5% – 35% of their wholesale energy costs. The Royal Opera House was a part of this and we will continue to provide such benefits to all of the Arts Basket members.”

Sally O’Neil, director of finance at the ROH encouraged other arts companies to sign up to the scheme.

She said: “The Arts Basket is a major opportunity for venues like ours to cut energy costs which are a significant overhead. We want to encourage other arts venues and theatre managers to consider applying to join the Basket.”

Arts Basket is the latest in a string of initiatives within the arts sector aimed at creating cost efficiencies through organisations working in partnership. In 2010, the National Theatre revealed it was in talks with London venues including the Royal Court and the Donmar Warehouse about the possibility of sharing services including box office, legal, IT support and contracting. Meanwhile, last year, a group of 12 London producing theatres launched a collaborative website – tastetheatre.com – where theatregoers can browse shows and book tickets for productions at any of the theatres.

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