Theatre faces summer financial pressures, report says

Creative director Debbie Thompson at St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth launching the new brochur

Creative director Debbie Thompson at St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth launching the new brochure. Photo: TMS Media - Credit: TMS Media

A major arts venue in Great Yarmouth is facing financial pressures while its senior management staff concentrates on “pressing operational matters”, a council report has said.

A report has been prepared looking at St George’s Theatre, which says turnover of senior staff and lack of resources have led to “piecemeal” changes at the venue following an Arts Council grant last year to develop a new business model.

The report by Great Yarmouth Borough Council looks at the St George’s Trust following a review by consultants DCA.

MORE; creative director’s plansThe council owns the building and leases it to the trust and provides an annual subsidy, with £20,000 set aside for 2018/19.

In June the council agreed to provide an extra £25,000 grant to the trust to enable it to continue its operations over the summer and to help it consider the consultants’ findings.

The report says while the appointment of a creative director, Debbie Thompson, has improved the entertainment programme, there are still concerns concerning the venue.

It says: “Despite efforts to implement the recommendations of the Arts Council report, limited progress has been made, Unfortunate issues, such as turnover of senior staff and lack of resource have led to piecemeal change with limited impact.”

MORE; theatre successThe consultants also looked at the venue’s cafe and said trading levels were low, there is a capacity to provide a more significant food and beverage offer and the venue struggles with low footfall in the immediate vicinity.

It was recommended work be carried out to improve the theatre building, including its entrance and cafe, with the council asked to help the trust look for external funding.

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The council document says: “St George’s Trust continues to face financial pressures and as senior management staff are concentrating on pressing operational matters, strategic projects or programmes of work are yet to be commenced.

“This has meant that commercial income generating activities are unable to be developed over the busy summer period.”

The report, to be fully debated in October, recommends any future subsidies are made with a formal agreement between the trust and council be agreed and the council should assist in looking for external funding.