Book-in the major agents

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re the Open Air Theatre.

Initially in June 2009 Mr Gregg announced grandiose plans for Peasholm Park then all of a sudden he appeared across the road at the Open Air Theatre. In November 2009 it was announced, “The documents also say that Apollo, which intends to form a new company specifically for the Open Air Theatre project, was unable to provide a parent company guarantee to protect the borough’s money”. Also that, “Apollo is a relatively new company – having been established in just 2007 – and does not have a parent company that could offer the council any guarantees”.

Further to that, “The council report states “if either of the companies were to become insolvent, or wound up for any reason, then the council has no means of financial redress other than as a usual creditor”.

I would have thought that the forgoing was a big enough “amber” warning light.

At a Scarborough Borough Council meeting in October 2009 it was stated that Apollo will run the Open Air Theatre for a minimum of five years. That the borough council will accept responsibility for costs of £82,125 per annum relating to the management of Northstead Manor Gardens and the theatre land (namely business rates, insurance, site maintenance and annual security). minimum income to Apollo in the sum of £117,500 per annum.

A contribution by Apollo of £100k toward free play facilities in Northstead Manor Gardens or Peasholm Park payable upon completion of construction of the play facilities by the Council or its agent.

And Benchmark announced children’s play facilities to replace the abysmal ones below the top car park on Burniston Road. What is the current situation on this?

As we all know, some stars would fill the Open Air Theatre twice over, others the first three rows only.

I personally think the theatre has been and will be a very hard venue to return the profits wanted, simply because of what it is and where it is and who is bookable for it.

A run of bad weather and it is dead in the water; 6500 seats with a possible 8000 limits to what level of “star” will play it for cost effectiveness.

Since the first event of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras only the Elton John and the first 80s reunion have filled the place. The other events have been failures in attracting people. Even Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s second visit could only half fill the theatre. Elton John was a lucky fill in as he had just finished his European leg of his tour and was starting his UK one a week later.

If booking artistes for the thatre comes down to the council then they have to go to the major booking agents and not local one man agents. Any company running a venue like this would by now have announced the events for this summer.

PJS Waller

Woodville Ave