What colour is the elephant?
I refer of course to the fiasco surrounding the Open Air Theatre.
This venue was resurrected from a ruin at considerable cost, most of which was raised by borrowing, and is run with heavy subsidy borne by the taxpayers of the borough, and is apparently failing. We are now told that as we stand we have no confirmed bookings for summer 2012.
I have to ask how many “headliners” are still to settle their summer bookings by now, in January. Who is likely to be still available, who can fill the venue, and make some money. Although this is in the keeping of a private company, it’s us, all of us, that will pay for its failure.
Some of us suggested right from the outset that this venue was always destined to struggle for obvious reasons, not least the entertainment fashions of the day, which of course have changed dramatically since its heyday, and the innately unfriendly climate on the North Yorkshire coast, making sitting outdoors for entertainment a less than pleasurable experience.
The era of It’s A Knockout, and YMCA pantomime performances, filling the venue are long gone, history. The public have different entertainment tastes in 2012. Perhaps people will tolerate the discomfort in order to witness the likes of some of the high profile prestigious events such as the Elton John concert, or some of the classical music events staged, which were well attended, and perhaps even made a profit.
It is unlikely that events featuring middle aged former “pop stars”, and obscure bands and the like, will either sell out, or break even, meaning that the venue will rely on the subsidy to survive, as was seen on occasions last summer. This was exactly what many of us said at the time, but as usual were not considered. Those with the romantic, fanciful, and unrealistic views on the future of the town again won the day.
This situation followed on from the fiasco of The Sands, for which the council gave permission for the building of the “buy to let” apartment development on the promise of the provision of an array of facilities, which have not materialised.
Then along came another developer who, having got involved and resurrected the promises, has effectively been given the freehold of the site of The Sands. The overall loser in both of these ventures is of course the poor Scarborough resident, we have ended up by losing The Corner, Kinderland, the outdoor pool and we have been presented with a block of apartments, built on free land, and a theatre that can never hope to be a profitable business.
Various excuses have, and will be, given for these failures, but hopefully the local residents will by now have learned not to listen.
Mr F Dore