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Crisis talks for Harrogate Theatre

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Harrogate Theatre is holding crisis talks with its sponsors, as the venue anticipates a significant shortfall after last year’s programming failed to attract sufficient audiences.

The extent of the shortfall will not be known until the end of the financial year but the theatre is expecting it to be substantial. Meetings are taking place between senior theatre executives and the venue’s three sponsors, which already provide it with £582,000 annually.

Chief executive David Bown told The Stage: “Despite the phenomenal success of many of the shows that have been produced at the theatre over the past three years, some have not been as well attended as we expected, leading to a projected shortfall.”

“We are working closely with them [the sponsors] to resolve these difficulties. They are being very supportive and understanding and are as passionate as we are to secure a future for theatre in Harrogate.”

The theatre already receives £400,000 a year from Arts Council England, £120,000 from Harrogate Borough Council and £62,000 from North Yorkshire County Council but this year it did not make the profits it was expecting.

According to a theatre spokesperson, its current pantomime Jack and The Beanstalk has enjoyed good audiences, which will help to alleviate the problem, but disappointing takings from earlier productions have caused the crisis.

The theatre has faced problems in the past – in 1986, the building had to be closed for almost a year – but until recently it had been enjoying a period of success, which included a recent award from local magazine Plush for best arts venue in Harrogate.

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