Presentation by the Head of Culture and Heritage
The Head of Culture and Heritage gave a PowerPoint presentation (previously circulated) on Darlington Hippodrome, updating Members on the theatre’s re-emergence following the easing of Covid restrictions.
It was reported that between March 2020 and Autumn 2021 the theatre had applied for and secured £1.7M of funding from the Cultural Recovery Fund; this enabled staff to be retained, overheads to be paid and ensured a programme of theatre, cinema and engagement activities was in place in the Autumn of 2021.
Reference was made to the Hippodrome Team who had ensured that the theatre remained operational and open to the public; that the response from the public had been unprecedented and saw the theatre have the most successful Christmas period in the last ten years.
Details were provided of the community engagement opportunities which included
weekly classes for adults and young people, the Mayors Charity Gala, an exhibition in partnership with Northern School of Art, and weekly drop in sessions for Daisy Chain to support families who have received a diagnosis of autism for their child.
Reference was made to the impacts of Covid on the industry; and details were provided of the theatre’s charitable fund, A place for everyone which had enabled 1,128 theatre experiences for young people and community groups, visits by 25 Darlington Schools and supported students with a bursary place for the Theatre’s Contemporary Dance classes. Additional support had been received from the National Lottery, with £16k for a 241 offer as part of Love Your Local Theatre.
Members were informed of the upcoming shows at the Hippodrome and the Hullabaloo; and ticket sales in the recovery period were outlined.
Discussion ensued regarding opening hours for the bar in the Hippodrome; and options to address anticipated reduction in ticket sales as a result of increased living costs, which included an extension of the 241 offer and a range of ticket prices.
RESOLVED – That the thanks of this Scrutiny Committee be extended to the Head of Culture and Heritage for his informative and interesting presentation.