Birmingham Hippodrome Hits New Admissions High with 2013-14 Season
Birmingham Hippodrome is delighted to announce a record-breaking year which saw paid admissions increase to over 625,000 tickets in the 2013/14 financial year. For some time the city's Hurst Street theatre, an independent registered charity, has been regarded as the most popular single auditorium in the country averaging over half a million visits annually. But this year's extraordinary increase, representing 85% of capacity, has been driven by a unique season of blockbuster productions includingPhantom of the Opera, The Lion King, War Horse and the best Pantomime for a decade.
Announcing the strong year-end figures, Chief Executive STUART GRIFFITHS said: "It's not very often that these programming moments come together so perfectly, but with more than a little help from our producer partners Cameron Mackintosh, Disney, the National Theatre and Pantomime producers Qdos, alongside others, it looks like we've shattered all previous known records. It's gratifying too that we've seen such a huge rise in first-time bookers with over 48% new to the Hippodrome in the last 12 months.
"Dance received a boost with our resident partners Birmingham Royal Ballet presenting its most successful Nutcracker at Christmas; and Mathew Bourne's sell out Swan Lake. We ended the financial year this spring with two other huge successes, the classics Fiddler on the Roof and Singin' in the Rain."
Commenting on the news, Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust Chair JOHN CRABTREE added: "We've checked the archive as far back as possible to find that last year sets a new standard. There is no doubt that Stuart Griffiths and his team along with our producer partners have delivered a particularly impressive set of results, and we would like to thank our loyal audiences and the many thousands who came to the Hippodrome for the first time this year."
Mr Crabtree continued: "In keeping with the successful formula created in recent years, the success of the last financial year is already being used to invest in the programme and towards further developing a diverse audience. The month-long International Dance Festival Birmingham, co-produced with DanceXchange, starts at the end of April, South Africa's Cape Town Opera return in July with their production of Show Boat whilst St. Petersburg's acclaimed Mariinsky Opera bring Wagner's Ring Cycle to Birmingham in November."
Chris Harper National Theatre producer said: "Every single available seat for War Horse was sold during our run at Birmingham Hippodrome, and we are absolutely thrilled with the theatre's success. We're also excited about returning this year with our productions of One Man, Two Guvnors in May, and looking ahead to 2015 with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
Managing Director of Qdos Pantomimes, Michael Harrison said: "Birmingham has always been a special venue on the Qdos Pantomime schedule. The biggest audiences, the great facilities at the theatre, and the city's long-standing tradition of a spectacular event for the whole family are things we really value. We're delighted to have played our part in the Hippodrome's success this year with the best attendance in a decade for Snow White."
The theatre's growing Hippodrome Plus programme of education, access and free outdoor performance, the main fundraising focus of the charity, had a particularly exciting year. The number of people engaged in creative learning projects doubled to over 16,000; and free events such as Summer in Southside, Illuminate and Chinese New Year welcomed a significant uplift. The Hippodrome team also produced the 4 Squares Weekender to celebrate the opening of the new Library of Birmingham, on behalf of Birmingham Arts Partnership.
Fundraising too saw a bumper year with generous donations from members of the ticket-buying public for projects such as pantomime's first 'Relaxed Performance' for autistic children. Corporate membership improved by over 30% and higher-level individual giving, through the expanding Patrons' Scheme, nearly doubled. During the year, the Hippodrome was re-certified for ISO14001 Environmental Management and also became what is believed to be the first UK theatre to achieve certification in OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management). Expansion of digital technology and the installation of LED lighting resulted in further reductions in energy use.
Crowning a memorable period, last month the Hippodrome featured in the Sunday Times' renowned "Top 100 Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work For", part of the theatre's programme of staff development.