Recession blamed as shows attract smaller audiences

A decrease in pantomime audiences in Hull of 14 per cent has been described as a “very worrying trend”.

According to newly-available figures, audiences for the latest production Aladdin, starring Chico, were down by more than 4,800 on the previous year, with income falling by £77,000.

A report says other productions and events at the city’s council run Hull New Theatre and City Hall are also seeing a decline in ticket sales.

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It emerged recently that Hull Truck Theatre on Ferensway was facing a possible shortfall of £500,000 over the next four years, because of disappointing audiences, funding cuts and soaring overheads.

Council leader Steve Brady said: “The recession has exposed serious problem for us. When I was a child and we were a family of 14 we always went to the theatre for the panto however bad the economy was. If you don’t catch the changing mood it won’t be 15 per cent next year, it could drop further.”

Coun Brady said they had to look hard at engaging audiences – and the council should be looking at offering taster sessions and more attractive pricing and packages.

The panto figures show that in 2009/2010 net ticket sales were £539,090 gaining an audience of 42,701. Last year that fell to £462,193, and 37,855 attendances.

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On a brighter note the Winmau World Darts Masters is due to return to City Hall in October.

The event attracted record spending at the bar and for food of £40,446. The report said the live TV coverage and the positive exposure the City Hall gained was “without doubt immeasurable”.

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