Open Air Theatre - Great venue but questions on marketing

The predominantly empty venue at the 80's Rewind concert 113572q
The predominantly empty venue at the 80's Rewind concert 113572q

A PROMOTER for Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre has admitted his disappointment with its performance following a succession of small crowds.

Tony Viney is the founder of Scarborough-based organisers Entourage Global, who were behind this summers Beached and N-Dubz concerts. He’s believes that the venues operator, Apollo Leisure and Resorts Scarborough, needs to improve if the theatre is to prove a hit.

He said: “When we put our shows on, we’ve invested a lot of time, effort and money. When N-Dubz played, we had street teams, flyers and posters all over the town, and every show needs to be done like this for it to work.

“The marketing for the venue needs to improve. People are doing a lot of hard work for no real results.”

He spoke to the Evening News following last Friday night’s 80s Rewind Show at the venue which attracted a crowd of around 1,000 people - a fraction of its 6,500 capacity.

Since the venue was opened in 2010 to huge fanfare, the multi-million pound theatre has remained half empty for the majority of shows, with its only sell-out performance this year being Elton John in June.

And fans have been quick to voice their opinions as to why the venue is failing to pull in the crowds.

Many have criticized high ticket prices, with some shows, such as the recent Last Night of the Proms, costing over £50 per ticket.

Booking at the venue has also come under fire from gig-goers.

Sam Shrouder, speaking on behalf of the venues operators, insists the venue has so far been a success, despite a succession of failed bookings.

He said: “Last Friday there wasn’t as many people there as we would have liked, we admit that.

“But by a long way the best thing that we have done was booking Elton John, which has laid an incredible foundation for the next few years for us to book top acts, and there are some major names hoping to play the venue next year,

Mr Shrouder admitted that certain shows were failures, and that organisers would learn from these.

He said: “We have learned that putting on shows such as the world music festival, Musicport, just didn’t work, but we will learn from our mistakes.

“We’ve also realized that we need a major named attraction to play for the show for it to be a success.”

However, Mr Viney believes that it’s not just about booking big names, but rather about booking bands that have a wider appeal.

He said: “This is now a university town, and during the season, we are attracting families, so if it’s going to work, it really needs to start booking acts for younger people.”

Leader of Scarborough Council Tom Fox said: “We’ve been disappointed by some of the shows put on so far, but the operators have shown that they’ve the ability to put on excellent shows.

“The council, as well as the operators, are wanting to see it in use more next year, and for the community to have more use out of it.

“But it’s not just about bringing in full houses. It’s about local people getting pleasure out a wonderful venue.”