Record ticket sales and a headline concert from pop sensation Britney Spears could lead to Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre turning a profit.
Scarborough Council has revealed its financial results for the 6,500-capacity attraction, Europe’s largest outdoor venue.
It shows that the cost to the council of operating the venue for the year will be £107,000, with the council’s finance director warning that it will see no income from a profit sharing deal.
The “cost of operation” of the venue was reduced by £25,000 as income exceeded expectations by £73,000, which reduced costs from £132,000.
The venue, which is operated through a contract with promoter Live Nation, via its subsidiary Cuffe and Taylor, also booked acts for 2018 including Gary Barlow, Lionel Richie and Stereophonics.
The deal sees Scarborough Council receive a share of any profits from ticket sales, with the promoter taking over the risk of all costs associated with the booking of acts.
The booking of US superstar Britney Spears made headlines across the globe.
In his report, which will go before the council’s Audit Committee next week, Nick Edwards said the venue had its best ever year.
He wrote: “Total attendances in 2018 of 91,431 exceeded all other years and increased on 2017 by 17,335. Average attendances increased from 5,211 to 5,714, again the highest average since the venue reopened.
He added: “The forecasted economic benefit to the borough was around £7m.
“What the estimated value doesn’t include is stays of over one night or repeat visits to the borough so it is believed that this figure is likely to be considerably higher than the £7m quoted.”
However, the report also notes: “Due to the significant costs involved in the booking of world-class acts this year and the associated costs of putting on these shows it is not anticipated that there will be any profit share due to the council in this financial year.”
The report also notes that Live Nation has agreed to repay the amount spent by Scarborough Council to permanently infill the lake at the front of the theatre’s stage, which increased the capacity this year. The payments will be of £71,000 over a 10-year period.
Following the Manchester Arena terror attack, the council has also invested in safety barriers to sit in front of the venue.
The report adds: “Management have worked closely with the Counter Terrorism Unit, providing various documentation and implementing a number of new measures to help safeguard the public attending the concerts.
“As part of this review, it was decided that anti-terrorism barriers were required for the venue and events including the Tour de Yorkshire and Armed Forces Day and these were hired in for these events and the 2018 OAT season.”
In response, the council used £46,000 from its Investment Fund to purchase the barriers permanently.