Harrogate Theatre held a joint Board and Trustees meeting on Monday 16 January for the first time in its history to discuss the Royal Hall.
It was unanimously agreed that the Theatre should enter into a partnership with Harrogate Borough Council to secure the future of the Royal Hall.
Talks between both sides will continue to ensure that details are agreed in time for approval at the full Harrogate Council meeting on 9 February 2012.
David Bown, Chief Executive at Harrogate Theatre said:
This is a very exciting partnership between the Theatre and Harrogate Borough Council to create one of the most thrilling cultural offers in the region, if not the country. Also in these difficult times it will contribute to the local economy in a meaningful way. We are mindful of our responsibility to the history of the Theatre and excited at the new emerging artistic programme.”
Jim Clark, Chairman of Harrogate Theatre said:
I feel this is an extraordinary and unique opportunity to bring together our two heritage buildings that will create strategic purpose and sustainability for many years to come for Theatre, Royal Hall and the arts scene of Harrogate and District. The success of this enterprise is dependent on the support of the whole community, which Harrogate Theatre has always valued in the past.
Harrogate Borough Council has welcomed the decision of the Board and Trustees of Harrogate Theatre to give unanimous approval to a proposal to take over the operational management of Harrogate’s Royal Hall. Under this agreement, the council will retain ownership and responsibility for the building itself, whilst providing additional grant funding and support to the Theatre.
The Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Cllr Don Mackenzie, responded positively to the decision. He said:
This marks an important new milestone in the partnership between the council and the theatre. Every effort has been made to reach an agreement, which provides a great opportunity for the theatre, and which is fair to the council and our residents. We intend to make a substantial grant payment of £105,000 to the theatre, in addition to making the Royal Hall available with all its facilities including heating and lighting, technical equipment and staff, cleaning, repairs and maintenance, at no cost to the theatre. In total, this represents a contribution to the partnership on behalf of the Harrogate taxpayer of almost £200,000.
For its part, the theatre will provide a superb programme of at least 60 artistic and cultural events over the course of the first year of this agreement. We recognise the theatre’s amazing expertise in entertainment of the highest quality, and are very pleased that they will bring this to one of finest venues in the country.
This agreement is very good news for residents and visitors, and will boost our efforts to promote the district as a very popular visitor destination. I hope that the shows sell out. Big attendances will boost the Theatre’s income, because we have agreed that all profits from the sale of refreshments can be retained by the theatre.
The theatre will carry on its discussions with the council and final details of the proposals will go to the council’s Cabinet on 1 February and full council on 8 February when the final decision will be made. It is anticipated that the partnership will start from 1 April 2012.
The council will continue to support community events and Harrogate International Festival performances at the Royal Hall, making the venue available at the special discounted rate
This week also sees the Theatre launch its new season, which combines the Royal Hall and Harrogate Theatre & Studio under the banner of Harrogate Theatres for the first time. From February to May 2012 over 90 performances will take place over the three venues with 6 World Premieres, 8 Community Productions as well asworld class artists such as Edward Fox & family, The Hallé, Northern Sinfonia, Stewart Lee, Rich Hall and Honor Blackman amongst many others.
This way of working follows on from Harrogate Theatre’s successful initiative to create Harrogate Box Office in April 2011 – a one-stop shop for booking a range of entertainment happening at multiple venues and festivals within the region.