The past year, 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 has been a time of great growth and consolidation for Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust. As we move into our second year as manager of two large-scale vibrant venues in the centre of Newcastle I am pleased to report that business is booming – we are trading ahead of budget, and our programme of investment continues apace.

Attendance has been very good – 360,402 people at Theatre Royal, a very healthy 72.5% of capacity (some 10% above the national average), and 111,460 at City Hall. Our aim continues to be to maximise the potential of each and ensure that they pioneer the best entertainment, and maintain their position at the very centre of cultural life for the people of Newcastle and the North East.

Over the past year, the City Hall has presented 83 public performances and 14 private events, and there were a record-breaking 405 performances on the Theatre Royal main stage. We also presented another blockbuster pantomime - the swashbuckling Peter Pan - that (yet again!) smashed all previous records, welcoming over 96,500 people through the doors over 92 performances.  A run of hit musicals also did big business in the Box Office, in particular the UK premiere of Mel Brooks’ hit musical Young Frankenstein, which ran in Newcastle before opening in the West End and was enjoyed by nearly 14,000 people over a two week run.

These are figures to be proud of, and owe much to the quality and variety of the programming, the majesty of the buildings and, most importantly, to the efforts of all our loyal and dedicated staff.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, a landscape of ‘zero’ funding and rising costs we strive to offer as diverse a range of entertainment as possible.  And while we will always adhere to our charitable objectives we also acknowledge that we operate in a populist market and must present productions with broad appeal to remain commercially viable. This is increasingly important considering the uncertainty of April 2019 and Britain’s ever more complex relationship with Europe.

Our investment programme for the City Hall is striding ahead and we have already spent over one million pounds since we took over the venue in April 2016. Over the past year we have completely refurbished the basement toilets and bar. When we took over the Hall it was in a position of debt but we are delighted to report that it is now going from strength to strength. 
This has been an extremely strong year for our Learning programme - in 2017/18 we had a total of 47,687 engagements with 5,812 individuals. We have worked as the national industry partner for The Drive Project and The Royal British Legion delivering the Bravo 22 Company production. Our Project A actor training programme is excelling and now in its third year has an over 90% success rate of graduates gaining professional representation or working credits within six months of leaving us.

The word ‘Welcome’ continues to be our mantra, and as always, my thanks go to our dedicated staff and committed Board of Trustees who champion this in all they do and work so tirelessly to make our great venues truly magnificent. My thanks to you all, and also not forgetting our wonderful audiences – the best in the country!

Philip Bernays, Chief Executive
Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust Ltd