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									                                                                                ITEM NO ……
30 APRIL 2009


                                             SUMMARY REPORT

Purpose of the Report
1.   This report updates the Resources Scrutiny Committee on audience analysis for Darlington
     Civic Theatre for the year 2008/9.

2.   Audience figures for Darlington Civic Theatre have risen in the year 2008/9 and the theatre
     continues to programme the best available touring work, to present it with the highest
     possible production values and to enhance the offer through strategic audience
     development, engagement initiatives and activities.

3.   It is recommended that:-

     (a) Scrutiny Committee note the contents of this report.

                                                 Cliff Brown
                                       Director of Community Services

Background Papers

None applicable

Mike Crawshaw : Extension 2431

Darlington Civic Theatre Audience Analysis 2008-9      - 1 of 5 -
Resource Scrutiny Committee
S17 Crime and Disorder                        This report has no impact on crime and disorder
Health and Well Being                         This report demonstrates the benefits of culture
                                              specifically the Civic Theatre, on the fulfilment and
                                              mental well-being of individuals and on community
Sustainability                                There are no environmental impacts associated with
                                              this report.
Diversity                                     This report demonstrates the role the Civic Theatre
                                              plays in providing a diverse cultural offer and in
                                              creating pathways for the whole community to
                                              access it.
Wards Affected                                This report has no direct impact on a specific ward.
Groups Affected                               This report demonstrates how the Civic Theatre
                                              impacts on the whole community.
Budget and Policy Framework                   This work has been delivered within available
Key Decision                                  There is no key decision needed.
Urgent Decision                               There is no urgent decision needed.
One Darlington: Perfectly Placed              This report mainly links to the Prosperous
                                              Darlington Theme group but demonstrates how the
                                              Civic Theatre contributes to delivery across all
                                              theme groups.
Efficiency                                    This report identifies an income generating strategy
                                              through audience development.

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Resources Scrutiny Committee
                                                    MAIN REPORT

Information and Analysis


4.   Darlington Civic Theatre is a well-regarded Edwardian receiving house, equipped to take
     professional large and middle scale touring productions and with a capacity of 893 seats. It
     celebrated its centenary in September 2007 and remains firmly rooted in the local

     (a) Its core purpose and vision is to present high quality events which are relevant,
         inclusive and accessible to the whole community of Darlington and beyond.

     (b) The Civic Theatre offers a diverse, vibrant programme, which is designed to cater for
         all tastes, to provide excellent entertainment and generate income.

Key Achievements

Audience Figures

5.   Despite the challenging economic situation nationally, the Civic Theatre has had a
     particularly successful year both artistically and in terms of audience figures.

     (a) The number of tickets sold rose from 159,240 in 2007/8 to 174,658 in 2008/9.

     (b) Highlights included All the Fun of the Fair, which was seen by 4,879 people, Blood
         Brothers which was seen by 5,577 people and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour
         Dreamcoat which was seen by a record breaking 9,357 people.

     (c) One night shows continue to attract high audience figures, with shows such as One
         Night of Queen, Barbara Dickson, Spirit of the Dance, Ken Dodd and the Viennese
         Spectacular all attracting audiences in excess of 80% capacity.

Audience Development

6.   The Civic Theatre strives to continually develop new audiences, to encourage risk taking
     among existing audiences and add value to the experience of theatre attendees, through
     education and outreach activities.

7.   The Arts Team secured funding from the Arts Council in 2008/9, through the Maximise
     Initiative, to explore innovative ways of engaging with diverse audiences. This has
     provided the opportunity to consult with community groups, to examine potential barriers to
     inclusion and to reflect the interests of these groups in the theatre’s programming choices.
     An example of this was the programming of ‘This is Soul’ on 11 February, which was
     supported by the Darlington & District West Indian Association.

Darlington Civic Theatre Audience Analysis 2008-9         - 3 of 5 -
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8.   The Civic Theatre is a founding member of the Touring Consortium, a group of middle and
     large scale theatres, which includes Birmingham Rep, Wolverhampton Grand and Cardiff
     New Theatre. This Consortium was set up to influence and or commission quality drama
     for the national touring circuit. This consortium has been successful in securing an Arts
     Council National Touring Contract of £140,000 for 2009/10 and 2010/11. This prestigious
     award will enable the Consortium to produce four productions in this period, which will be
     characterised by high production values, a broad appeal and will be accompanied by
     innovative education and outreach programmes. It will also raise the profile of the Civic
     Theatre nationally. The first production in October 2009, is likely to be a new adaptation of
     ‘Kes’, which will include the participation of a large group of local young people.

9.   Darlington Civic Theatre and Arts Centre have been successful in an application to the Arts
     Council’s Free Theatre Initiative, branded as ‘A Night Less Ordinary’. This two year pilot
     project offers free theatre tickets to under 26 year olds at up to 95 theatres nationally and is
     part of a strategic approach by government to give increased cultural opportunities to young
     people. The scheme was launched in February 2009 and the Civic Theatre’s application
     was particularly praised by assessors for the way in which it connected to the existing
     strong offer through its ArtsSpark youth membership scheme. The grant of £10,000 will
     enable the Civic Theatre to promote the scheme to young people and the target is to offer
     3,000 free tickets over the two years.

Community Engagement

10. In addition to its professional programme, Darlington Civic Theatre also empowers and
    supports community groups to present their work and to achieve the highest possible
    production values. Groups who have presented their work at the theatre in 2008/9 include
    Earthbeat Theatre for adults with learning disabilities, the Vibe Awards and Darlington
    College of Technology Award Ceremony.

11. Darlington Operatic Society is a key partner for the Civic Theatre. Their two productions
    presented at the theatre this year, Barnum and The Pirates of Penzance attracted between
    them, audiences of over 11,800 people.

12. The Civic Theatre strives to offer assisted performances and to increase attendance levels
    by deaf, hard of hearing, blind and partially sighted people. In 2008/9 there were 24 audio
    described performances, two signed performances and several ‘touch tours’. The Touring
    Consortium, has been successful in securing hub status for the National See a Voice
    scheme, which will mean that the Consortium’s productions visiting the Civic Theatre will
    be accompanied by high quality captioning and audio description.

13. The Civic Theatre has a loyal and supportive Friends scheme, which hosts member events
    and also raises money to benefit the theatre. In October 2008 the Friends commissioned
    and funded a new artwork by Jane Charles in the Borough Road entrance, to celebrate the
    Theatre’s centenary, entitled ‘Cornucopian Vision’.

Darlington Civic Theatre Audience Analysis 2008-9   -4-
Resources Scrutiny Committee
14. Each year in partnership with QDOS Entertainment, the theatre presents an ever-popular
    pantomime. In the run up to this year’s production ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, the theatre in
    collaboration with the Northern Echo and TFM Radio organised a regional ‘Search for a
    Pantomime Princess’ to provide a young actor with their first professional engagement. 50
    young people auditioned for the role culminating in a final contest which was attended by
    180 people and the panel of judges included Duncan Bannatyne of TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’
    which created a great deal of positive publicity for the theatre.

15. Theatre tours are a valuable method of engaging the community with the Civic Theatre and
    provide a means for people to glimpse what goes on backstage and gain an insight into how
    the theatre operates. In 2008/9 the theatre conducted 35 tours, this included 13 tours by
    school groups, including a group from Mulheim, as well as participation in the National
    Heritage Open Days in September.

Outcome of Consultation

There has been no consultation.

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Resources Scrutiny Committee

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