Comedy boost for loss-making Port Talbot theatre

Rob Brydon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Comedian Rob Brydon is one of the stars who have performed at the venue

Shows by top comedians including Rob Brydon and Sarah Millican have helped a council-owned venue cut its losses.

The Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot has been kept going with subsidies by Neath Port Talbot Council.

In four years, the venue's income more than doubled from £163,000 to £375,000, with losses cut from £127,000 to £43,000.

Staff credited a change of tack which saw top stars offered a percentage of the takings rather than a set fee.

Operations co-ordinator Paul Walker praised the team at the theatre for attracting stars, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"Rather than paying lots of money to provide artists, we did deals with the agent where we would take 20% of the income and they would take 80%," he told councillors.

"When we're talking about Sarah Millican and Rob Brydon, that's quite a substantial income.

"Things like marketing are also no longer just up to us - agents have a responsibility as well."

Image copyright Edward Purcell
Image caption The venue hosts music, comedy and drama as well as conferences and seminars

Children's shows have also gone down well along with a "refreshed" annual pantomime, he added.

The venue, which holds just under 800 people, also hosts a number of amateur group productions as well as conferences and seminars.

Mr Walker said that while these were not big earners, they were commercially viable.

Leisure committee chairman Alex Thomas said the turnaround was "very impressive", although other councillors claimed the theatre needed refurbishment.

In response, Mr Walker said the venue did need a "refresh", with work to improve the stage and replace the carpet seen as priorities.

"If there is some investment, there is a good chance we could turn it into a profit-making venue," he added.

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