Theatre to take on HIC box office

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STREAMLINED box office services for Harrogate’s main entertainment venues have been launched to save nearly £200,000 a year while boosting the town’s vital tourism industry.

Ticket sales for the Harrogate International Centre (HIC), Harrogate Theatre and the town’s Royal Hall will now be overseen by a single facility under a shakeup to slash costs and enhance the service.

The theatre’s box office had previously operated as a single entity, but staff will now be responsible for selling tickets for all three venues after the new system was launched at the end of last week.

A box office at the HIC had previously been used to sell tickets for the conference centre and the Royal Hall, which cost nearly £250,000 to operate in the last financial year.

The new structure with an overarching box office for all three venues is expected to cost less than £67,000 for 2011-12, while also providing longer opening hours and reduced booking fees.

The theatre box office is open between 10am and 5pm for six days a week, whereas the HIC facility only operated for three hours daily, five days a week.

Thirty eight redundancies have already been made at the HIC, but no further job losses are expected.

Harrogate Council leader Don Mackenzie claimed that the move will help enhance the district’s tourism industry, which is estimated to bring about £331m a year to the local economy.

Coun Mackenzie, who is also the chairman of the HIC’s board, said: “It is not simply about saving taxpayers money, this is also about enhancing the experience for people who are planning to come and see shows and events in Harrogate.

“If people have difficulty in buying tickets, then they are much less likely to come back to Harrogate.

“However, if they are pleased with the service provided, hopefully they will book a return visit.”

The overhaul of the box office services is the latest move to cut operating costs for Harrogate’s entertainment venues.

It emerged last month that plans had been drawn up to slash the Royal Hall’s running costs by appointing a private company to oversee the building.

Latest figures revealed the Royal Hall had a net operating loss of £364,561 during the last financial year.

l Have you ever had problems with the HIC box office? Do you think services will improve with the involvement of Harrogate Theatre?

Let us know your views by emailing ackrill.news@ypn.co.uk, writing a letter to The Editor, Harrogate Advertiser, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate, HG3 1RZ, or find us on Twitter, @harrogatehound.