The past year, 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 has been one of great change for Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust. On Friday 1 April 2016 we took over the management of another of the city’s historic and much-loved entertainment venues, Newcastle City Hall.  Our team has worked very hard to make this integration a success, and both venues are trading well and ahead of budget. In fact, we had one of our best years ever.

Attendances have been very good – over 378,000 people at the Theatre Royal, an astonishing 81.6% of capacity (some 20% above the national average), and 115,000 at City Hall.  Our aim going forward is to bring together the strengths of each, into an even bigger and better whole and ensure that both venues remain at the forefront of entertainment for the people of Newcastle and the North East.

Over the past year, the City Hall has presented 81 public performances and 25 private events, and there were 399 performances on the Theatre Royal main stage. We also presented another blockbuster pantomime that (yet again!) smashed all previous records, and saw Danny & Clive greet their millionth ticket holder.  A run of hit musicals also did big business in the Box Office, in particular an eight week run of Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular Mary Poppins which was enjoyed by a staggering 70,000 people.
These are outstanding figures, and owe much to the quality of the programming, the majesty of the buildings and, most importantly, to the efforts of all our loyal and dedicated staff.

We can never rest on our laurels though and continue to face considerable cost pressures and high production targets in a climate of ‘zero’ funding and a very competitive market.  We are mindful not to lose sight of our Charitable Objectives but also recognize that our venues have to operate in a populist market so continue to present a wealth of productions with broad appeal.  We have also earmarked a million pounds for immediate improvements to the City Hall including more dressing rooms, a complete redevelopment of the basement and bar, more ladies toilets and wheelchair spaces, better facilities for disabled people and a state of the art sound and lighting rig.
Our Learning programme continues to go from strength to strength and has had another very successful year. The total number of engagements grew again (57,387 in total including with 39,464 young people).  Some exciting new partnerships were also forged, most notably through The Drive Project and The Royal British Legion.

We strive to excel in everything that we do in order to attract audiences, and the word ‘Welcome’ continues to be our central mantra. 2016/7 has been challenging but also extremely rewarding for us and the new arrangement offers great promise.  As always, my thanks go to to our dedicated staff, our committed Board of Trustees, our sponsors, supporters, audiences and partners. A big thank you to you all.

Philip Bernays, Chief Executive
Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust Ltd