Funding The Theatre

The Lessee and operator of the theatre.

For approximately two years between it formation in 1986 and 1988 the Trust Board managed the theatre directly with the assistance of the manager previously employed by Pilkington Bros.  However, by 1986 it had become apparent that what was required to ensure the continuity of live theatre at the Theatre Royal was for the theatre to be operated, under lease from the Trust, by a commercial operator.  Since that time the theatre has had four lessees operating the theatre in accordance with the terms of the Trust’s objects and paying an annual rental to the Board.  Under charity law the maximum period the Trust has been able to lease the theatre to an operator for is 7 years.  Consequently, the Trust has had to continue to be responsible for the maintenance of the foundations and external fabric of the building with the tenant responsible for internal maintenance of the building to the standard when the lease began.  The tenant is also required to secure the provision of a minimum number of shows per year and to make the theatre available to local amateur societies, including dance schools, at reasonable prices for a minimum number of weeks per year.  The present lessee is Regal Entertainments Limited (proprietors and directors Jane and Barry Joseph) who have operated the theatre since 1999 and are currently over half way into their second 7 year term.

Funding the theatre

The current tenant, as a commercial operator, receives no direct grant funding from anybody having to depend on box office income to meet its overheads.  Neither does the Trust receive any direct grant funding since the expiry of Pilkington Bros initial four year grants.  The Trust therefore has to meet its maintenance liabilities from the rental income it receives each year from its tenant and from grants it receives from time to time towards specific projects, mainly from other charities. 

In 2003-04 the Trust was fortunate to be offered the opportunity of carrying out a major refurbishment scheme with funds provided mainly from the Single Regeneration Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and its own limited resources.   The different Funds were arranged and the work was co-ordinated through the former Ravenhead Renaissance and St Helens Borough Council.  The work cost in excess of £1.7m.  The works were supervised by Ellis Williams Architects and the Frank Whittle Partnership, Architects, and included a new frontage to the theatre.  The refurbished building was officially re-opened on 6 May 2004 by the Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Leon Maguire.  The reopening is marked by a plaque in the theatre foyer.

The Trust Board wishes to place on record its grateful thanks to all those persons who assisted with the refurbishment project, not least the staff of Ravenhead Renaissance and the Borough Council.