Theatre’s Royal Hall role decided

THE Royal Hall will be jointly run by the theatre and Harrogate International Centre for the coming year.

Having prepared last year to hand over full control to Harrogate Theatre, HIC is now sharing management duties as part of an interim agreement.

While the theatre will be given up to 60 dates for entertainment events which have already been arranged, HIC will continue to organise performances by community groups and as part of the Harrogate International Festival.

Theatre board chairman Jim Clark said: “It was the original intention for us to have a lease of the Royal Hall similar to the lease of the theatre, but that was not possible because of the problems at the Royal Hall in the past and the ongoing situation at the HIC.

“The idea is that we will work in the next year to draw up more long-term plans.”

He said the only way for the Royal Hall to be sustainable was for the theatre to run it independently, but said that was “some way off”.

The theatre will be given £105,000 by Harrogate Borough Council, which owns the Royal Hall, while HIC will continue to look after the general management including cleaning and technical needs. Although the theatre will be given any proceeds from its own events and the community and festival dates run by HIC, any bookings made by the theatre will have to be approved by HIC.

There will be monthly meetings between the theatre and HIC to discuss past and upcoming events, while the agreement itself will be subject to reviews after six months and a year, which is the initial period of the agreement.

The report before the council’s cabinet on Wednesday night said: “If the arrangement demonstrates a continuing requirement for funding at this level this will have difficult resource implications for future years where overall council resources are set to fall and other council services to the public may be facing cuts.”

Coun Clark added: “I’m very optimistic about the future but we have to be careful in these difficult financial times.

“It very much depends on the community responding and I’m sure they will. Bookings are going well, we’re putting on some great shows and it’s up to people to come to see them.”

The report was passed unanimously by the cabinet and will now go to the full council next Wednesday.