Sheffield theatres trust case

Topics: Theatre, Sheffield, Strategic management Pages: 38 (10052 words) Published: January 16, 2005

2.1 Summary of Sheffield Theatres Trust case

This case tells us the history of two theatres, namely the Crucible and the Lyceum theatre, from the year 1971 till 2001. The problems that occurred during development and also change of the environment will be discussed. There will be a focus on the funding part and the interests of the stakeholders, which can be related to formulating a suitable strategy for the Sheffield Theatres Trust.

The Sheffield Theatres Trust is a combination of two theatres, which have their own tradition. The first tradition mentioned is producing high quality theatre in the Crucible and the second tradition is the existence of a strong history of touring theatre in the Lyceum theatre. Establishing high quality artistic work, filling sufficient seats and working without deficits are aims, which had been a challenge for the last ten years.

The Lyceum theatre opened its doors in 1897. In 1968 it closed its doors for productions due to lack of investments and modern amenities. The Sheffield council wanted to sponsor a new theatre in 1966, so a board of trustees was selected; as a result in 1971 the new theatre "Crucible"(reflecting design of the building, and history of Sheffield's steel industry) opened its doors for the visitors (the costs were �4000). This theatre consists of two stages, one that has 980 seats and a smaller (Studio Theatre), which has 250 seats (increased up to 400 nowadays). This theatre is situated next to the Lyceum theatre. Special about this new theatre is the range of activities besides the productions. Their principle was "the more people who could be enticed through the doors for whatever purpose, the stronger the theatre going community would be" . In 1987 the Sheffield Council decided to renovate the Lyceum theatre, which would cost �.4m. After completion in 1990 it was a modern historical theatre that has 1100 seats. Since both theatres were situated next to each other, and for the economies of scale, they decided to merge both theatres into one company namely the Sheffield Theatres. Important note is that the specific role of the Crucible as a producing house will remain, so that the role of the Lyceum would be hosting touring companies. And the third stage will host a variety of chamber music and drama, and will be the home of the Lindsay String Quartet.

After one year the results were poor, because of unprecedented losses. The city treasurer stated "that the theatre should slash costs and run more popular shows to attract bigger audiences" . In 1975 Peter James became overall director of the theatres. According him there were some problems regarding attendances of 50% below capacity and the balance between what the visitors wants to see and what the writers want to write about, which seems to be outbalanced. According to Clara Venables, who became the new director in 1981 said that a theatre should be controversial, if not; the theatre will have no impact, and might attract less people. In 1982 the Arts Council and Sheffield City Council investigated the financial crisis, which occurred during that year. As a result structures changed, like the resignation of the chair of the board, and an executive committee also replaced the management and financial committee. From that moment on the board was going to meet twice a month instead of twice a year. Since one the causes of the financial problems was the high assumption of filling seats (70%), so budgets were being developed more carefully. In 1998 a "net stage contribution" deals with individual productions, which results in better budgets. Budgetary changes were difficult, since it affects the artistic freedom. During the mid-80's a national climate occurred, which resulted in no more money from the Arts Council and local authorities in order to solve the problems of the theatres. However the (controversial and challenging artistically) productions had a...
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