'We're delighted at how the Scunthorpe Baths Hall has been running'
The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe is one-year-old. Last week North Lincolnshire Council said it was committed to making the venue – funded by around £500k of taxpayers’ cash a year – a success.
Scunthorpe Telegraph reporter Selina Maycock did a Q&A session with the Baths’ management company SMG.
What has been the highlight?
We have hosted a number of prestigious events in our first year – from a Matt Cardle special event for Lincs FM to the BBC's Children In Need live show this week. There have been many highlights in the first 12 months – from Bill Bailey, Kate Rusby and the Chinese State Circus, to excellent classical performances from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Moscow City Ballet – even Peppa Pig. Seeing 1,800 people enjoying themselves at the Scunthorpe Telegraph's birthday Bash with Lawson, Stooshe and others was another highlight. The response we have had from all involved has been fantastic and we will continue to work hard to attract high-calibre events to the region which suit a range of audiences and age groups.
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How many people has the venue attracted from out of town?
A significant proportion of guests visiting The Baths Hall come from outside of Scunthorpe. Numbers from Hull and the north bank of the Humber have increased since the Humber Bridge tolls were halved and we have seen guests travel from as far away as London and Edinburgh. One customer for a future show has even booked tickets from Germany.
Is it where you want/expect the venue to be at this time in terms of ticket sales and acts that are being booked?
We are delighted with the response from local residents, many of whom are repeat customers to the venue for a variety of different events.
Is the Baths starting to reap rewards? What are the profitable signs? Can it survive without taxpayers' cash?
As a private company, we do not comment on financial matters.
How many people have been through the doors?
Our contracts with promoters are confidential and we do not comment on the number of visitors or tickets sold for events.
How do you deal with the competition when many acts appear at other venues like Grimsby Auditorium, Hull, Sheffield City Hall etc at the same time as their tour comes to the Baths Hall?
As a multi-purpose venue, The Baths Hall complements other venues in the region. Sales have held up strongly when acts have visited other venues in the region. For instance, Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr and this year's Brendan Cole performance have all sold out despite having more than one show at another regional venue.
Beer prices were adjusted at the start in response to feedback from customers. What other steps have been taken in response to public feedback?
We take customer feedback very seriously. We contact all guests for whom we have e-mail addresses after every show and act, where appropriate, on all responses they provide.
What has been the feedback from promoters, artists, public and staff about the venue and about the acts that have performed/ are due to perform?
Feedback has been unanimously positive. Many acts have asked to come back as a direct result of the experience they have had at The Baths Hall. The venue is certainly putting the town on the map in entertainment terms, as recent announcements for acts such as Jimmy Carr, Sarah Millican and Al Murray show.
What steps are you taking to ensure you minimise any cancellations such as those of Annie, Aswad and Wheels on the Bus?
The shows mentioned were postponed at the request of the promoter or hirer of the venue, not by The Baths Hall.
What targets have you set to improve the running of the Baths Hall?
We always look to provide the best possible show for everyone involved, particularly the artists, their crew and customers.
What are your projections for 2013? What acts are you looking to bring to the town?
We have some wonderful shows coming up in the next 12 months, with a number already sold out. Comedians Jimmy Carr, Jason Manford, Al Murray and Sarah Millican make their first visits to the venue, with Strictly Come Dancing's Brendan Cole and the Moscow City Ballet both returning to Scunthorpe in the Spring. We are also looking forward to welcoming the Halle Orchestra, Bellowhead, Clannad and Horrible Histories in 2013.
Are there any plans to stage another pop concert like Birthday Bash, bringing acts that appeal to a younger audience?
If the Scunthorpe Telegraph or a local radio station wish to have another birthday party, we'd be delighted to host it.
How is SMG strengthening its links with local performing arts groups? And what does it plan to do in the future?
We continue to foster excellent relationships with local groups. We have championed local artists by using space for exhibitions, with Lee Coleman in particular going on to display his work at Pretty Green's flagship store in London. We have weekly line dancing classes held by Dance Julie and we have also been encouraged by the take-up of free taster sessions for local amateur groups, such as Dramarama, Scunthorpe Operatic Society and The Hospital Players. We continue to work alongside North Lincolnshire Council for events such as the Regional Dance Hub and Orchestras Live, both of which will be hosted at The Baths Hall in 2013.
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