Canterbury: The council-run theatre boosting the local economy

marloweThe Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury celebrates its fifth anniversary in its new building this week, and has unveiled figures about its impact on the local economy since re-opening.

Canterbury Council has run and managed the theatre for many years and took the decision to undertake a £25m re-build just as financial recession hit in 2009. The new building now has greater capacity, enabling it to attract more high profile shows. It is expected to generate almost £35m this year.

The council has also worked hard to ensure it is embedded within the local community and that its supplies are procured locally.

Janice McGuinness, assistant director of commissioned services at Canterbury Council, said that the new theatre has pumped more than £150m into the local economy, from a ‘very focused policy around buying local’ to the knock-on impact on restaurants and bars.

‘The council manages the theatre as a business unit,’ she said. ‘When we were deciding whether to re-build it we were convinced by the argument of the economic impact it would generate and what would be lost if it closed.’

Such is the financial success of the theatre that from next year the council will no longer need to subsidise it.

Mark Everett, director of the Marlowe, said that the success of the theatre has meant that the council had ‘become more of an enabling organisation than a funding one’, adding that cuts in funding across the arts sector in the UK are forcing organisations to think more creatively about their business models.


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