Council inflicts significant financial blow on Harrogate Theatre
Last updated Jan 17, 2024

Harrogate Theatre has suffered a significant financial blow after North Yorkshire Council reviewed its booking agreement.

The theatre currently programmes entertainment at the council-owned Royal Hall and Harrogate Convention Centre, as well as at the theatre itself.

It benefits from a reduced booking fee and income from these events.

But North Yorkshire Council, which succeeded Harrogate Borough Council in April last year, has decided to review its agreements with all cultural venues in North Yorkshire. The changes will come into effect next year.

It means the theatre will no longer organise the programme of events including music, comedy and drama at the Royal Hall and the convention centre, and income will go to the Northallerton-based council instead.

The move will have financial consequences for Harrogate (White Rose) Theatre Trust, the charity that operates the theatre although the full implications are not yet clear.

Jo Ireland, the council’s assistant director for culture and leisure, said in a statement:

“We are reviewing the agreements we have with all our cultural venues and organisations in North Yorkshire, and Harrogate Theatre is part of that work.

“All existing arrangements will remain in place for 2024/25 whilst we complete this work which is being carried out in consultation with the cultural organisations affected.

“Harrogate Theatre has an arrangement to book 30 events a year at the Royal Hall at a reduced fee and there are currently 33 events programmed for the coming year. Those bookings will be honoured.

“Outside of this arrangement, programming at the Royal Hall and Harrogate Convention Centre will continue to be undertaken by the team at Harrogate Convention Centre.”

The Stray Ferret has approached Harrogate Theatre for comment.

According to the theatre trust’s latest financial statement, for the year ending March 31, 2022, it generated income of £3.1 million, which was considerably up on the covid-hit figure of £1.4 million for the previous year. It recorded a surplus of £421,000. Staff numbers fell from 38 to 27.

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