City Council says ending of grants and low attendances led to decision to close Peterborough’s Key Theatre

Peterborough City Council has said that the ending of government grants and low attendance numbers were behind the decision to close the Key Theatre.

By Ben Jones
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 6:12 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 6:20 am
The Key Theatre on Peterborough's Embankment
The Key Theatre on Peterborough's Embankment

The council has received support from the Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund in both of the last two financial years. In October 2020, the council was awarded £493,068 to support culture in the city, such as the Key Theatre, Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery and Flag Fen, through the challenges of the pandemic.

The same venues were also boosted by £350,172 of funding just last month. The council has said, however, that this funding has helped support the theatre’s winter season but not beyond January.

Due to the council’s dire financial situation, it has now been announced that the Key Theatre will close on January 17; with losses in the current financial year estimated to be as high as £300,000.

A city council spokesperson said: “It is correct that we have received grants from the Cultural Recovery Fund in both this financial year and the last (2020/21) to reopen attractions and support them to become operational again following the significant challenges caused by the pandemic. This funding is of course limited and could only be spent between November and March.

“The funding has been used to support the Key Theatre, Flag Fen and the museum, however these venues then require income from the public, for example through attendance of shows and events, to become profitable and we have found that attendance figures have been significantly lower than pre-Covid.

“The Cultural Recovery Fund has been used to support the Key Theatre’s winter film programme and panto season. Unfortunately, it does not provide additional funding past the conclusion of the panto on January 9. It would therefore require significant funding from the council for it to remain open into 2022 at a time when the council faces a significant financial challenge.”

The council is said to be in talks with alternative operators, who may be able to run the theatre with no financial support required from the council and is proposing to redeploy staff where possible to reduce the number of redundancies.

The Peterborough Telegraph also revealed this week that Selladoor Worldwide, which runs New Theatre on Broadway, are looking into ways they can helpt to secure the future of the Key Theatre.

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