The future of the Broadway Theatre has been plunged into uncertainty with shows being cancelled and the theatre’s former management company owing thousands of pounds in business rates.
Until Monday the iconic theatre was being managed by Mark Ringer under the company Performance Art Ventures C.I.C (PAV) which Peterborough City Council yesterday confirmed owes it £68,000 in rates.
Producers of shows which have performed at the Broadway also claim they are owed thousands of pounds.
The latest troubles for the theatre come a year after Mr Ringer, who formerly ran the popular Willow Festival in the city, and businessman Peter Dawe fronted a deal to save the venue in Broadway after plans to convert it into apartments had been submitted to the council.
The Dawe Charitable Trust currently leases the theatre from its owner Rinaldo Fasulo and had been sub-leasing it to PAV. However, PAV has now had its sub-lease terminated.
A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the council is owed unpaid business rates from Performance Art Ventures CIC. The council has taken all available recovery options to secure this debt, including obtaining a Liability Order at court.
“Our officers had been in regular dialogue with the company’s managing director with a view to supporting the organisation in applying for any rate reliefs they are entitled to.
“Unfortunately the necessary information required to support this application was not received despite a number of requests.” The spokesman said the Liability Order allows the council to seize future assets PAV may have to recover the money.
Mr Dawe said: “Mark’s strategy of filling the venue with a big and diverse programme was not matched by sufficient audience to cover it.
“Within the business we could not see him turning it around so we reluctantly decided to terminate his management of the theatre.
“The Dawe Charitable Trust has taken possession of the lease. It will continue operating but as a venue for hire rather than as a place for promoting. We have an expectation that the pantomine will go ahead.”
The PT has been contacted by two promoters of shows which have performed at the Broadway who allege they have not been paid in full.
One of the those is Lakin McCarthy Entertainment following Ruby Wax’s performance at the theatre on April 17.
Co-director Warren Lakin claims the firm is owed £10,000. He said: “This is the first time in 10 years of Lakin McCarthy promoting all around Britain that we have faced this situation in terms of the amount of money and the scale of the venue.
“It’s a little bit unprecedented, that’s why we are distressed.
“We are consulting solicitors at the moment about what our next move will be.”
Mr Dawe said contractual matters regarding the operation of the theatre were “a matter of PAV” and that the Dawe Charitable Trust “is the biggest creditor by far.”
The theatre has been closed this week with tickets not on sale, although its Twitter account has been advertising upcoming shows.
Mr Dawe, who last year ran unsuccessfully to be the first ever Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, admitted “there’s a chance” the theatre could close full-time, but he’s hopeful of turning its fortunes around and eventually buying it from Mr Fasulo, adding that “a number of major venue operators have expressed an interest in taking over the building”.
Mr Dawe said people who have bought tickets for shows through TicketSource will get a refund, but that tickets purchased by other methods were “a matter for PAV”.
Yesterday he said: “I have a team at the theatre working all hours trying to sort things out.
“All the shows promoted by PAV are cancelled. Venue hire parties are going ahead.”
The PT spoke to Mr Ringer on Friday who said there was an ongoing dispute with Lakin McCarthy, but he declined to comment on other matters.
A statement was released on the Broadway’s Facebook page on Monday morning. It read: “Despite PAV’s best efforts the company made a substantial loss over the past eight weeks and has not been able to meet it’s financial commitments to its landlords and has been forced to cease trading.
“A combination of low ticket sales, a heatwave, the holiday period and a two week outage of all internal comms due to a technical fault beyond our control all conspired to send the company into un-recoverable financial difficulty.
“The new management company have vowed to keep the Broadway operational until at least 2020 and hopefully a long time beyond. They have access to resources that PAV did not have and the future is looking bright for the theatre complex.”
Restaurant Sundays will continue serving roast dinners at the theatre.