‘Outstanding’ year for theatres

Carly Bawden as Eliza Doolittle.
Carly Bawden as Eliza Doolittle.

Sheffield Theatres reflected this week on an “outstanding year”, despite the harsh financial climate that has seen cuts in public grants and “restructuring” of staff.

At the end of a year including the Stage 100 Regional Theatre of the Year Award, managers of the Lyceum, Crucible and Crucible Studio said audiences were growing across all three venues.

The value to the local economy through spending on the likes of hotels, restaurants and car parks is estimated at £27m. The World Snooker Championship, which ended this week at the Crucible, is thought to generate £2m, raising the theatre’s and Sheffield’s profile in reaching a global TV audience of 285m.

In their review of 2012, Sheffield Theatres chief executive Dan Bates and artistic director Daniel Evans said the regional theatre award acknowledged the contribution to the life of the city, region and country, and was the culmination of “an outstanding year”.

It had been “a busy, highly successful and critically acclaimed year”, despite the theatres finding themselves “in the midst of financial hardship and with the prospect of more to come”.

Annual grants from Sheffield City Council and the Arts Council continue to be cut.

Neil Adleman, chair of trustees, said: “During the past last year, we’ve restructured the staff team and made savings across the theatres whenever possible. This puts us in a strong position to continue to deliver extraordinary productions and reach out to audiences across the city and region during 2013 and beyond.”

But he said longer term work with “communities, young people and emerging talent across the country may be affected”.

An average of 7,000 people visited the theatres each week, and Christmas was a particular successful time thanks to May Fair Lady in the Crucible, Cinderella in the Lyceum and Rapunzel in the Studio. More than 25% of Christmas show visitors were new to Sheffield Theatres.

Other highlights of the year ranged from a Michael Frayn season to musicals Chicago and The King & I to the return of Opera North with Ruddigore and 27 schools seeing Macbeth.

Sheffield Theatres receive 17% of their income from public funding, the rest from ticket sales, bars, catering and other sources.