Councillor’s vow on Open Air Theatre

The Open Air Theatre
The Open Air Theatre

SCARBOROUGH Council has reiterated it will stage its own shows at the Open Air Theatre this summer – following fears the venue could remain closed all year.

Public concern had grown that the troubled £3.5 million venue could stay empty after operators Apollo failed to unveil its 2012 programme as planned on Tuesday, with only months to go until the start of the summer season.

But David Jeffels, the council’s tourism portfolio holder, moved to reassure residents. He said: “This isn’t a case of the council attempting to out-muscle Apollo. We’ve said from the outset that we’re looking to complement whatever Apollo come up with. Whatever they come up with, we will augment with our own acts.

“The theatre is big enough to host whatever is on offer to us, we just have to make sure it’s appropriate for Scarborough.”

Cllr Jeffels’ comments come a day after the operator took to the social networking site Facebook to defend itself.

On a fan page linked to the much-maligned venue, statements were posted blaming the council for the delay in announcing this summer’s programme.

A statement from the Open Air Theatre said: “The council received a draft of our events programme for their approval and promised us a response by close of play last Thursday as they were aware that we were planning to release on January 31.

“They then told us on the Thursday that they would not be coming back to us until early this week so we have been forced to delay the release of the programme.”

They added “issues” with the venue – most notably the addition of a platform to house additional seating to increase its 6,500 capacity – would not be sorted this year and so were working within the current “constraints” in order to fulfil their minimum contractual obligation - believed to be six headline acts.

Scarborough Council declined to respond to the claims.

However, the team behind the theatre have debunked rumours Apollo intends to sever its ties with the venue, adding: “We must stress that we hold a 25 year license for the theatre and are in this for the long haul.”