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Swansea’s Grand Theatre blames audience shortfall on NT Live

The Swansea Grand Theatre could go dark for a month each year The Swansea Grand Theatre could go dark for a month each year
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A shortfall in audiences at Swansea’s Grand Theatre has been blamed in part on initiatives such as National Theatre Live.

Swansea Council, which owns the venue, said it had a target of 278,000 theatregoers in 2014/15, but that this figure was actually 257,593, a difference of 20,407.

In a report, the authority said that “digitalisation and live streaming” of the arts had resulted in a “short-term effect on patron visits”. It also said such initiatives were putting the opportunity to programme and present new work under “increasing pressure”.

The claims come despite a report published last year, which found that NT Live had not had any impact on the number of people attending regional theatre.

Other regional theatres have also expressed concern about the impact of live screenings, with the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough claiming they must not become a substitute for actual theatregoing.

In its report about the theatre’s performance, the council also said that it was suffering economically because of a tough trading environment.

It put this down to commercial producers “curtailing tours” and cancelling them completely, naming the recent collapse of Copacabana as an example.

The council said Copacabana’s tour was cancelled with three weeks’ notice, meaning “these dates could not be effectively filled with quality product”.

It added that the theatre had, for a number of years, “followed a policy of low-risk programming to minimise the risk of financial loss on expensive productions or tours that seek a guarantee from the theatre”.

The council said that it was talking to Arts Council Wales about funding for new writing that may “bring new audiences”.

It highlighted its strategy for the theatre, which includes “less repetitive tribute performances”, developing new work and improving customer experience.

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