Better agents for Open-Air Theatre

FURTHER to the editorial in the Evening News, “Same and More” about the Open Air Theatre.

Indeed a remarkable achievement in the restoration of the Open Air Theatre.

It’s downfall to being a success is the booking of the shows.

In 2010 it was only Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras and the 80s concert that saw full houses. This year only Elton John has seen a full house, even Dame Kiri Te Kanawa could only half fill it this year. The other shows to date sparse and poorly attended. We had shows cancelled in both 2010 and this year.

The council announced and increased seating for Elton John and a Sunday performance with an 11pm finish before any of it had gone before council for approval. We then learn permission had been approved by the council that shows can now be any day of the week with an 11pm finish. Compared to the original approval of Friday and Saturday with a 10.30pm finish. The “noise levels” that should be abided by have been ignored it seems.

After spending £3.5 million along with the very large annual operating fee to Apollo Leisure it will be a long time before it is a monetary success as far as the local council tax payer is concerned.

To stop it becoming an expensive white elephant somebody has to get in top agents and not local agents. At this time of year there should be adverts in both local and national papers of the 2012 shows like we read every weekend in the national papers of who will be where playing where through next year. This year we had agents trying to get shows for this year which is simply crazy.

The Open Air Theatre could be up there with the top venues. The weather has and always will be a factor as will the time span that events can be put on. From say the first Saturday in June to the first Saturday in September there are potentially 13 weeks or 91 days when a show can be put on now. Six shows and two cancellations for 2011 in that time span does not make comfortable reading. The operational side of the Open Air Theatre at this time seems to lack what it sorely needs for it to be the success it deserves to be.

PJS Waller

Woodville Ave