Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's a Bad Sign for Us; Theatre Group's Audiences Dwindle Due to Red Tape

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's a Bad Sign for Us; Theatre Group's Audiences Dwindle Due to Red Tape

Article excerpt

Byline: Sonia Sharma

ACOMMUNITY theatre group fears a council's crackdown on advertising signs could put its future at risk.

Day8 Productions, a not-for-profit company set up to support amateur theatre in North Tyneside, has seen a fall in audience numbers after being banned from putting up promotional banners and posters in the Whitley Bay area.

The group used to attach adverts for upcoming shows to railings and lampposts alongside certain roads in the town and surrounding areas.

But last year North Tyneside Council took all their signs down and told the company it would face court action if it continued to put them up.

The authority says the adverts are illegal unless they meet planning rules.

Organisations must apply for planning permission to make sure the signs are suitable and officers look at issues, such as highway safety and visual amenity, before giving consent.

Day8 Productions, which stages programmes at venues including Whitley Bay Playhouse and Tynemouth's Priory Theatre, says it is suffering because of the red tape. It has sought advice on the five sites but all locations have been classed unsuitable.

Members were further angered to see the council had put up adverts promoting its own activities in places where the theatre group's signs were pulled down.

The authority says it can erect certain signs under its statutory powers while some can be put up provided they are beneath a certain size and are not for commercial purposes.

Claire Willis, a director of Day8 Productions, said: "Up until last year, we would put up banners two weeks before a show and take them down immediately after the programme. It was a gentlemen's agreement and it was working well.

"But then our signs were all taken down by the council and we were told we could be liable for prosecution if we put them up. …

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