Bill Kenwright’s production company has begun formal proceedings to recover £70,000 in alleged unpaid revenue from Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre, in a move that could lead to the venue’s operating company being wound up if it does not pay.
Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre is facing claims that it owes nearly £100,000 to visiting producers, with Bill Kenwright Ltd alleging that the venue has not paid the box office receipts from a run of Blood Brothers last year.
BKL has now served a statutory demand to the theatre, which was bought from the local council in 2014 by businessman Simon Rigby, whose company also operates the venue.
The demand means that if the debt is not paid within 21 days, BKL can bring a winding-up petition against the operating company, Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre Ltd. This could lead to it being placed in compulsory liquidation in an attempt to repay creditors.
The Stage first reported on the payment problems at the Preston venue in January, when BKL spoke publicly of claims that it is owed £69,910 after taking Blood Brothers to the venue in September 2018. The company said the final settlement had been due in October, but claimed the Guild Hall had subsequently missed several self-imposed payment deadlines.
Following the issue of the statutory demand, BKL’s executive director Steve Potts told The Stage: “I am very disappointed that, despite [our] best and repeated efforts over many months, theatre owner Simon Rigby has failed to pay BKL what it is due, contrary to the contract between the two parties and contrary to subsequent promises made by Tom Flack, chief financial officer of the Rigby Organisation.”
The Rigby Organisation is the overarching company that controls Rigby’s businesses, which span the leisure, property, energy and care sectors.
Potts also urged Rigby and Flack to “take stock of this serious situation, disclose what’s going on, and face up to their responsibilities”.
Others claiming to be owed money by the theatre include children’s theatre producer Fierylight, which has already issued a statutory demand to the theatre and previously said it too planned further legal action to chase £17,000.
Allegations also relate to a George Michael tribute show, for which Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre is said to owe producer Ellis Live £9,600. The company’s director Mark Ellis told The Stage that it obtained a county court judgment several weeks ago, and had threatened the theatre with removing goods from the premises through bailiffs if the debt is not paid.
Several other producers said they had resorted to legal action in order to secure payment from the theatre in the past, with producers and promoters now pulling shows from the venue’s programme over mounting concerns about payment.
Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre has been contacted for comment by The Stage.