Belgrade Theatre set for boost

Ticket sales rise and set-building company increases turnover.

Figures released as part of the Belgrade Theatre’s Annual Report show that the theatre’s commercial set building company has achieved record turnovers this year, increasing its earnings from £311,822 in 2012/13 to £414,638 in 2013/14. Belgrade Theatre Enterprises Ltd, which incorporates income earned by BPS, Conferencing and Events, Commercial Workshops and other ancillary sales now account for 60% of the Belgrade’s annual income, marking a 10% increase since 2011/12.

In a bid to become less reliant on public funding, the Belgrade Theatre has continued to find new and innovative ways to diversify its existing income streams since reopening in 2007. This has seen the theatre rent out its facilities for Events and Conferencing, introduce commercial theatre workshop programmes for children and adults and establish its own commercial set building operation, BPS, which continues to attract commissions from companies across the UK.

2013/14 has seen BPS increase its annual turnover by an impressive 32% on 2012/13, making this year one of its most successful to date. In addition to providing a new income stream for the theatre, BPS also retains a pool of skilled workers in the city at its workshop in Red Lane. During 2013/14, the company provided almost 15, 964 hours of work for freelance and casual carpenters, welders, prop makers, scenic artists and wardrobe technicians in addition to the Belgrade’s core staffing.

In addition, a robust fundraising programme, aided by the Award of an Arts Council Catalyst Grant, has seen the theatre’s core fundraising almost double from £86,000 in 2012/13 to over £160,000 in 2013/14. Combined with the money raised from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations, these commercial and philanthropic activities mean that the theatre has successfully increased its earned vs. grant income to 60% in 2013/14 compared to 50% in 2012/13. During the last twelve months, each £1 of Coventry City Council funding invested in the theatre was matched by £3.45 of earned income which rises to £4.44 with Arts Council Funding.

The Belgrade Theatre’s Executive Director, Joanna Reid, said: “We are very proud of the success that the Theatre has achieved in repositioning itself since its reopening in 2007. This success has resulted in the Belgrade now being recognized as one of the leading producing theatres of the country, attracting quality artists and theatre companies to make work in and for this city and region.

“As ever, we are working hard to increase and diversify our income streams in the face of a decline in core funding. To be able to report another year of growth in all areas including audience numbers and ticket sales, is a fantastic achievement and fitting testimony to the ongoing commitment and support of our funders, stakeholders and staff. We’re proud to be such major contributors to the economic and cultural life of the city and to be responsible for generating £6.2 million back into the local economy too.”

The Belgrade Theatre continues to be a major contributor to the city’s goals for Economic and Community development and, despite a decline in core funding, has maintained its trajectory of increasing audience numbers, particularly for its own work. In the last year, the Belgrade has seen audience attendance increase by 12% to 164,300.

During the last twelve months, the theatre has staged a total of 434 performances of 70 productions, five of which were the Belgrade’s own productions. Amongst these productions were the critically-acclaimed production of Chekhov’s Sons Without Fathers co-produced with Arcola Theatre London, a revival of the Coventry Blitz play One Night In November; the world-premiere of Charlie Peace, His Amazing Life and Astounding Legend co-produced with Nottingham Playhouse and a new version of Ben Johnson’s The Alchemist.

The Belgrade Theatre continues to expand its reputation as a national leader in education through targeted work with young people and local communities. Over the last twelve months, 9,242 children, young people and adults aged 50+ participated in 1,027 workshops carried out via the Belgrade Community & Education Company. In total, 2013/14 saw 42% of Coventry and Warwickshire primary schools access the Theatre In Education play Big School in partnership with the Local Education Authority, enabling a total of 1858 pupils aged 10 and 11 to benefit from the pioneering transitions project.

For more information or to view the Belgrade Theatre’s 2013/14 Annual Report in its entirety, visit

Pic: Nicola Young