Smash-hit year at Sheffield theatres

Cathy Bawden as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the Crucible.
Cathy Bawden as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the Crucible.
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A record-breaking year has been reported by Sheffield Theatres - where audience numbers in 2013 were the highest ever.

Boosted by hits like Oliver, My Fair Lady and its own production of The Full Monty, The Crucible and Lyceum attracted over 439,000 people - around 8,500 every week.

Turnover was in excess of £11 million, while a high point was the prestigious award of Regional Theatre of the Year for the second year in a row.

And it isn’t just Sheffielders who are flocking through the doors - research has found that 17 per cent of the audience travel for over an hour to see one of the shows.

Chief executive Dan Bates said: “Our reputation, nationally and internationally, is exceptional. Like most regional theatres, we have experienced economic challenges over the last 12 months.

“However our success has been made possible thanks to the team’s ambition and drive, the outstanding quality of our work and the passionate support of our audiences, our funders and of our business partners and sponsors.”

During 2013 Sheffield Theatres created 11 of its own productions, five of which were world premiéres, and welcomed 72 visiting companies to its stages.

Its production of The Full Monty toured across the UK and was enjoyed by over 131,000 people and the company also took its work to the international stage with the transfer of Mike Bartlett’s Bull, first staged in the Studio, to New York as part of the Brits Off Broadway season.

Another hit was the BBC’s CBeebies Christmas pantomime which brought 25,000 families and children to the Crucible in just three days.

And Sheffield People’s Theatre, the inter-generational theatre company, went from strength to strength with a sell-out week of Twenty Tiny Plays About Sheffield in the Studio.

Together the theatres generated 84 per cent of their own income through ticket sales, commercial activity and fundraising.

The next project begins next month - a £1.9 million revamp of the Lyceum.