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Home » Poole’s Lighthouse Arts Centre Says Energy Bills Now ‘major Challenge’ For Venues

Poole’s Lighthouse Arts Centre Says Energy Bills Now ‘major Challenge’ For Venues

Lighthouse arts centre in Poole has warned rising energy bills are becoming “a major challenge” for theatres and concert halls, with bosses at the Dorset venue reporting its electricity bill alone was set to triple this year.

Chief executive Elspeth McBain said the rise had come just as the culture and hospitality industries had been starting to see signs of recovery from the “devastating” impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms McBain said the venue was doing “everything we can” to meet its rising operating fees, and that the increased cost of living had impacted “all areas of the business”. She added the current squeeze on consumer spending meant its audiences were having to restrict how often they attend cultural events.

Ms McBain said: “Together, these factors have made it a testing time for organisations like ours and theatregoers alike. I am desperate for energy and living costs to come down so that we can keep bringing top class artists and productions to Poole, support local talent development, provide opportunities for cultural participation, and ensure that culture within our region continues to play a vital part in our community.”

It comes as a new research found that a quarter of music venues and theatres in the UK are concerned they may have to close down due to spiralling input costs. A total of 100 individual decision makers at concert halls across the country estimated that more than a third of their business expenses were now spent on energy bills.

Many of the venues, of varying sizes, which took part in the online poll last month, said on average they were running at half capacity, with around a fifth saying they had resorted to production cost cutting.

One in six (15%) venues reported having to increase ticket prices, at an average of 25% per ticket to cover increased expenditure on Air conditioning, heating, as well as sound and lighting systems. In addition, more than a quarter said they had also put up the price of refreshments.

Meanwhile, almost a fifth said they were only opening their doors during peak times of the week, while a similar number said they were using less energy intensive movable staging and production measures.

The study, which was conducted for energy price comparison website Uswitch, also suggested a spending squeeze on those going to live performances. Decision makers at surveyed venues said around 40% of consumers were choosing to buy cheaper seats and fewer refreshments, which was impacting their business.

The report found that many venues may have to make “considerable changes” if business costs continue to rise. Two in five warned they may have to make staff redundant to reduce costs, while one in three said they were worried about paying energy bills on time.

Mark Davyd, chief executive and founder of the Music Venue Trust, called on the government and energy regulator Ofcom to take action, after an “ incredible explosion” in energy prices seen across the sector over the last year.

Mr Davyd added: “The current situation is really on a knife edge, with venues essentially clinging on to the end of existing fixed term contracts and any new tariff effectively immediately creating a venue under threat of permanent closure.”

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