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Future of Newark's Palace Theatre could be third party operator

By AlexColman  |  Posted: January 09, 2013

Proposals- Mathew Finch from Newark and Sherwood District, Councillor Roger Jackson and theatre business manager Kevan Jackson at the Palace.

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The future of Newark's Palace Theatre could involve a third party operator, according to a proposal to be submitted to Newark and Sherwood District Council.

The Palace Theatre Commissioning Group are due to send their recommendations on January 17 and believe the idea could secure the theatre's future for a further 10 to 15 years.

The council has been looking at ways of reducing the amount it pays to subsidise the running of the theatre.

In 2011/12 the subsidy was £387,000 but was reduced by £100,000 in 2012/13 after the council put in place a number of measures to reduce the theatre’s running costs and increase income.

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Theatre subsidy has risen over the past 10 years from £171,159 in 2001/2 to £455,426 in 2010/11. At its highest, the subsidy was equivalent to subsidising each ticket sold to the tune of £8.98.

Proposals to bring in a third party to run the theatre would mean the management and operation would be undertaken by an external organisation with experience in theatre management. The building would remain in the council’s ownership and would be leased to the company.

A contract for a set period, likely to be between 10 to 15 years, would aim to increase the use of the building and allow the company to focus on marketing and programming to bring more people through the door. Staff who work at the theatre would transfer over to work for the company.

The council’s cabinet will discuss the option to bring in a third party and consider whether the potential advantages outweigh the disadvantages. If they decide to proceed, the contract would be subject to a competitive tendering process.

The council’s cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Roger Jackson, said: "If the decision is to outsource the theatre’s management, we must ensure it is a deal which provides value for money for the taxpayer and improves the Palace Theatre.

“As a council we have placed a high value on the cultural importance of having a local theatre.

"However, with the current financial constraints we cannot continue to provide the theatre in its current format so we must look for a sustainable alternative if the theatre is to continue.”

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