The past year, 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 has been a time of consolidation for Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust as we looked to maintain our strong audience figures.  As we moved into our third 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.

Over the past year, both venues have continued to pioneer the best entertainment and presented a substantial 463 performances including another smash-hit pantomime – Goldilocks and the Three Bears ­­– which again attracted a record number of people, cementing our position as presenting the North East’s biggest panto! Blockbuster musicals once again proved extremely popular and audiences were spoilt for choice with Jersey Boys, Evita, An Officer and a Gentleman and Kinky Boots all doing strong business at the Box Office.

We were delighted this year to welcome the Royal Shakespeare Company back to our venue and their contemporary performance of Romeo and Juliet was extremely well received by our audience and we look forward to their return in early 2020 with a programme of three of Shakespeare’s best-loved works.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, attendance has been good – 330,241 people at Theatre Royal, a very healthy 72.6% of capacity (some 15% above the national average), and at 117,284, City Hall boosted its audience from the previous year.

These are figures to be proud of, particularly when you consider the economic and political uncertainty of the present times and the challenges we faced over the course of the year through the unfortunate national tour cancellations of three key shows in our Spring programme – Doctor Dolittle, Shakespeare in Love and To Kill a Mockingbird. Whilst the circumstances behind these decisions varied, it does reflect the tough climate that our industry is operating within and the discretionary spend considerations of our audiences.

As we entered the new financial year, the management of City Hall transferred to Academy Music Group who will build upon the significant strides made during our three year tenure to take forward the venue which has now been rebranded as O2 City Hall Newcastle. When we took over the Hall in 2016, it was in a position of debt but we are delighted, and immensely proud, to report that it was handed over generating a steady profit and going from strength to strength.
 
This has been an extremely strong year for our Learning programme - in 2018/19 we had a total of 41,912 engagements with 6,963 individuals at our Learning events. We were selected as the national theatre partner for The Drive Project and The Royal British Legion through the Bravo 22 Company. Our Project A actor training programme is excelling and 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 us in all they do.  And my thanks to you all, our wonderful audiences – the best in the country!

Philip Bernays, Chief Executive
Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust Ltd