Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Optimism over Theatre's Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Optimism over Theatre's Future

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sam Wonfor Arts And Entertainment Correspondent

Things can only getter better - council leader

"Things can only get better - and they will."

Those were the words of Sue Pitts, the leader of Durham City Council, as she revealed next year's plans for the city's Gala Theatre - for which the council is responsible - and admitted that there were many lessons to be learned.

As another year in the venue's short, but troubled history comes to a close, Coun Pitts says she is full of optimism and determination to make the new year a new start for the Gala which has been beset by controversy and financial problems since its opening less than two years ago.

She said: "There is no doubt that a number of problems have occurred in the running of the Gala Theatre since its opening, but I am determined that in the next 12 months we will emerge from the state of emergency which the theatre found itself in when we inherited it and move forward.

"There are many plans to improve the profitability of the venue as a whole and completely restructure the management system which is in place to ensure a more efficient day-to-day running of the complex.

"We know we have to greatly improve the marketing and promotion of what the Gala has to offer and the events which are booked to take place and we will take great strides to do so. Audience development is a key part of our plans for next year.

"The Gala is not just a theatre. It has a wonderful studio which is used for a wide range of functions as well as a cinema screen on which we have started to show blockbusters which are proving to provide a good revenue.

"We will be opening a second screen in the near future which will hopefully add to this and give cinema-goers in Durham more choice because we are now the only cinema in the city."

Problems at the Gala began on its loss-making opening night featuring chart-topping pop group Westlife and fellow boyband, A1.

Because the management company which Durham City Council hired to run The Gala, The Entertainment Team (Durham) Ltd, was unable to sell tickets for an outside broadcast of the show in a marquee, it collapsed just six months later leaving debts of pounds 700,000. …

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