Credit: Nicola Young

Production Services contributes to increased turnover for the Belgrade Theatre

Posted on 3 October 2016

The Belgrade Theatre Trust has announced an increase in earned income through its commercial activities, the largest of which is its set building and costume manufacturing company, Belgrade Production Services. Recently released figures from its Annual Report show that the Belgrade Theatre Trust has been successful in earning 66% of its £5.5million turnover, compared with 46% of its £4million turnover in 2007-8, through its various enterprises.

Over the past year, 171,000 people enjoyed one of 531 live performances at the theatre; 12% up on the previous year. In 2015, the theatre also celebrated its legacy of 50 years since the invention of Theatre in Education, which has further strengthened its reputation as a leader in work for children and young people.
In a bid to become less reliant on public funding and to earn money from other areas in addition to ticket sales and merchandise, the Belgrade has undergone a strategic effort to diversify its income streams since 2007. This has seen the theatre hire out its facilities for Events & Conferencing, the introduction of commercial theatre workshop programmes for children and young people and the creation of Belgrade Production Services in 2009, which makes costumes and sets for theatres around the country.

Belgrade Production Services hold an impressive portfolio to its name, having produced sets for some of the UK’s most esteemed theatres such as the National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Regent’s Park Open Air and The Young Vic, as well as international producing clients.

Altogether the theatre’s wholly owned trading subsidiary Belgrade Theatre Enterprises’ has seen yet another year of growth, rising to nearly £1million (£945k). Of this figure, a total of £714k was earned solely by Belgrade Production Services, exceeding the turnover for the previous year.

This strand of the theatre’s work provided almost 29,900 hours of work for skilled freelance/casual carpenters, welders, props maker, scenic artists and wardrobe technicians in addition to the Belgrade’s core staff, based at their workshops at Red Lane in Coventry.

Joanna Reid, Executive Director of the Belgrade Theatre said, “Since the theatre’s reopening in 2007 following a £14million redevelopment project, we have been successfully seeking ways to sweat the assets of our building and areas of expertise. There has been a quiet revolution within the organisation as it becomes necessary to replace public funding and create commercial income, that enables us to continue to offer quality productions and community programmes to the City and Region. Belgrade Production Services is just one of the ways we are growing and becoming more resilient to the funding cuts that many theatres are now facing. We are extremely proud to offer this world-class set building and costume manufacturing service here in Coventry, offering employment within the City and boosting the local economy.”

The highly skilled staff at Belgrade Production Services are experienced in set construction and props including computer aided design, CNC machinery, carpentry, joinery, metal fabrication and scenic arts. The wardrobe department also have over twenty years’ experience in creating costume for theatre, film and television.

The purchase of a CNC Machine in 2015 is just one of the ways that Belgrade Production Services is attracting new clients. It has also resulted in the recruitment of two new staff members including a part-time machine operator and two-year apprenticeship in Carpentry.

In the year ahead, the Belgrade Theatre Trust will strive to continue to grow its enterprises and reduce its dependence on public funding by working towards a target of 70% earned income. The theatre has already proved its worth to the local economy, generating £5.48 for every £1 of funding from Coventry City Council and Arts Council England funding it receives.