Derby Playhouse Reopens, Treasure Island Back OnDate: 10 December 2007
In the ever-changing situation at Derby Playhouse (pictured), the troubled regional theatre – having closed its doors, apparently for good, on 29 November (See News, 30 Dec 2007) – reopened this past weekend and on Saturday (8 December) resumed performances of its Christmas show, Treasure Island. A financial proposal to secure the theatre’s longer-term survival is also now under consideration.
On 29 November, the theatre closed and the board of trustees recommended that the business be placed into voluntary liquidation. Around 80 employees were made redundant with immediate effect, but cast members and staff voted to stage what they believed to be a final performance of Treasure Island, which had been due to continue until 26 January 2008. That Friday afternoon the theatre’s board resolved to put the Playhouse into the hands of the administrators Patrick Ellward and Dilip Dattani of Tenon Recovery.
The theatre’s reopening comes after the administrators accepted a financial proposal to ensure the current production of Treasure Island could continue. The package was put together by a consortium spearheaded by former Playhouse chairmen Professor Jonathan Powers and Michael Hall. The group, which includes former chief executive Karen Hebden and artistic director Stephen Edwards, is now formulating a business plan to secure the long-term future of the theatre, and a fund has been set up in order to secure the Playhouse’s future, with current donations totalling over £180,000.
According to a press statement: “The proposed business model would signal a new approach to theatre financing in the UK, comprising a combination of public and private funding without structural reliance on discretionary grants. The proposal reflects a national debate on the future of arts funding arising from the pressures on both local authority and Arts Council grants. The consortium believes that such a model can help shape future policy for arts funding – effectively creating a hybrid of current UK and US approaches … Derby’s crisis is not just another regional theatre having another crisis: it reflects structural difficulty felt throughout regional theatre. Local support in Derby is staunch, but many people from further afield have an interest in how things pan out in Derby.”
- by Terri Paddock