Peterborough theatre boss hits out: ‘Greedy acts killed The Broadway’

Peter Dawe
Peter Dawe

The man hoping to revive the fortunes of The Broadway has launched an astonishing attack on “greedy performers” blaming them for the city theatre’s woes - and became involved in a war of words with one of the companies left out of pocket .

As previously reported in the Peterborough Telegraph, the company which has operated the theatre business since September last year - Performance Arts Ventures, headed by Mark Ringer - has collapsed amid claims of thousands of pounds being owed to third parties.

All the shows booked have been cancelled.

Peter Dawe - who leases the theatre through his Dawe Charitable Trust and was subletting to PAV - has taken the reins with a view to reopening the doors to the public.

However he has also shed light on the problems which he says saw the business fail - and why it is unlikely to host “Big Name” events in the future.

He said: “Over the last three weeks, my team and I have been on a rapid learning curve about the reality of theatre management. We now know why Performance Arts Ventures (PAV) failed. The greed of the performers.

“We were shocked that a typical deal with a singer or comedian was a guarantee of £4,000-£5,000 and a ticket split of 80:20 in favour of the performer, and sometimes ‘Artist Rider’ demands of £100s for hotel, food etc.

“Opening the theatre costs around £1000 per performance, so the theatre makes a loss of over £1000 with an audience of 250 paying £20 per ticket. A full house makes just £3,000 for the theatre. But a flop loses anything up to £6,000.

“So one flop will wipe out the profit of two full houses. Sadly PAV had a run of flops over the hot summer, when people are less inclined go to the theatre.

“The fixed costs of running the theatre is around £300,000 p.a. before rent, so the Broadway would need full houses all year and no flops.

“This just isn’t going to happen.

“As a businessman, I am truly shocked that theatre management accepts terms like these. These millionaire performers are taking ratepayers and charitable donors like myself for a ride.

“We are now searching for a business plan that can keep the theatre open in some way. Just maybe performers will change their terms, but don’t hold your breath!”

However Warren Lakin, a director of Lakin McArthy Entertainment, has taken Mr Dawe to task on his claims that “acts visiting the Broadway Theatre are as culpable as PVA for the failure of the theatre’s strategy”.

His company’s client Ruby Wax appeared at the venue in April and several thousands of pounds was still owed.

He said: “Our terms were entirely consistent with the contracts we had signed with more than 100 theatres across the UK, Ireland and Australia, for the same show. In no other instance, has there been any complaint from any other theatre about the deal.

“We are alarmed at the news that the Dawe Charitable Trust is taking over the sole running of the venue, as Mr Dawe’s comments reveal his total lack of understanding of the business he is proposing to manage.

“Lakin McCarthy calls for the entertainment industry and its professional bodies to boycott the Broadway Theatre, Peterborough, until all creditors have been paid.”