York Council owed more than £40,000 by company which ran failed Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre

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York Council is owed more than £43,000 by the company that ran Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – after the business collapsed into administration earlier this year.

A Freedom of Information Request to City of York Council said Lunchbox Productions owed the local authority £113,076 for the theatre to return to the Castle Car Park in 2019.

A dress rehearsal for Macbeth at Shakespeare's Rose Theatre. Credit: James Hardisty.

A dress rehearsal for Macbeth at Shakespeare's Rose Theatre. Credit: James Hardisty.

And at the point when the organisation went into administration in September, it still owed the council more than £43,000.

Charlie Croft, assistant director for communities and culture at the council, said: “We have written to the administrators advising that Lunchbox owe us £43,277. The matter is now in the hands of the administrators.”

A spokesman for Sadlers, the joint administrator, confirmed the council has lodged a claim against the company for the sum.

They said: “We do anticipate that we will be able to declare a dividend to creditors in due course, but this is likely to be a lengthy process and creditors will only see the return of a proportion of their debts.

“At this time we cannot speculate how much that will be as it will depend largely upon a successful tax relief claim.”

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In September, a spokesman for Lunchbox confirmed Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre had gone into liquidation and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions had gone into administration.

Neither Thor’s Bars Limited or Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland are affected as they are trading through different companies.

During the theatre’s first season in 2018 it attracted 80,000 visitors – 12 per cent of them from outside the UK. A council report said the attraction was set to bring in up to 90,000 visitors in the summer of 2019.

Instead, it attracted only 47,000 people. And at the Rose Theatre at Blenheim Palace only 38,000 people attended, whereas a figure of 75,000 was anticipated.

The company was said to have suffered “unsustainable losses” with a spokesman blaming the economic and political uncertainty created by Brexit.

They added: “With much sadness and regret, a board meeting has been held to start the liquidation process for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre.”

The productions staged this year “were greeted with great acclaim by audiences and critics alike,” the spokesperson said.

“Sadly, due to Brexit and the economic and political uncertainty this has created, the anticipated audience numbers needed to sustain a project of this scale were not achieved.”

A council report says Lunchbox was to pay the local authority £1,047 per day for the loss of income from 135 car parking spaces at Castle Car Park while the theatre was in place.

The attraction scooped two Visit York awards – Newcomer of the Year and Innovation in Tourism. This followed double success in the York Culture Awards where the Rose Theatre won Best Cultural Experience and Outstanding Cultural Collaboration (with York Theatre Royal for their productions of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Earlier this year, it was reported that there were plans to export Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre to the Philippines, and these would be used as a springboard to take the Shakespearean theatre into India and China.

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