A new Business Development Officer who has been appointed at Burnham-On-Sea’s Princess Theatre to turn around its fortunes says she is “under no illusions about the task ahead.”
Beccy Armory, pictured, has been recruited by Burnham and Highbridge Town Council to the new role at the theatre, which has run up a large financial deficit.
Talking to Burnham-On-Sea.com this week, Beccy has outlined her plans to turn around the theatre and make it into a thriving facility again. We interviewed her about her plans:
Q. What’s your reaction to being appointed to this new role?
“I am thrilled to be taking on the Business Development Officer’s role at the Princess. However, I am under no illusions on the task ahead. The Princess has suffered in the same way as many theatres and arts centres have across the country, so we must not presume it is any different; only in that it is still here to tell the tale.”
”Creative industries have had to adapt to many changes and huge funding cuts, sadly not all have been able to survive. This community is very lucky that the Council is wise enough to invest and adapt to these changes, hence employing me as the Business Development Officer!”
Q. What is your background in the theatre world and how will you apply this experience to running The Princess?
“In 2013, The Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton went into administration and Taunton Deane Borough Council needed a local community company to take it forward into the future. I am part of the team who created the charity and business that resurrected it. We worked tirelessly to create reserves, audiences, artistic integrity, high profile support, a strong board of trustees, volunteer teams and the incredible but economical workforce you see there now.”
”As you will appreciate, it is a project I am tremendously proud of. I have worked in the performing and visual arts industry my whole career, which has included programming, marketing and fundraising for productions, theatres and arts centres locally. This experience puts me in a unique position to understand the current and regional landscape and it’s definitely helped me to hit the ground running at the Princess.”
Q. What are your plans for The Princess Theatre in helping to turn it around financially?
“I believe that getting a business plan signed off should be a priority but there is huge scope for me to broaden our audiences and ticket income by making simple high quality additions to our programme. I would like to see stand-up comedy and family theatre. I have already made some straight forward changes in terms of PR and marketing, which is what drives our ticket sales. Social media has been underutilised and this is another area we have already made a start on. There are also plans underway for a new website, something that is up to date and conducive to ticket buying but also offers an understanding into what else we do for our community, as well as information on the heritage.”
“There are some infrastructure changes which I’m keen to work with the management committee to address, but my main priority is raising funds. I hope to achieve a point when this theatre can wash its face and create reserves that support anything we want to do culturally and artistically. I want this to be a space that our community and local audiences are proud of.”
Q. Why do you think small theatres like The Princess play such an important part role in community life?
“The cross section of community that you see walk through the doors are not always ticket buyers, in fact far from it. Specifically when you walk through the doors of The Princess you immediately feel welcomed and the café space is usually full of people enjoying a coffee and chatting, often they have taken part in an activity. Not everyone can travel far afield to the large scale venues or the West End and we must support that need for culture by offering a varied programme of events locally.”
”We know there is vast evidence that proves interaction with cultural events or artistic activities, boosts your mental health and offers a great sense of wellbeing. I want to also mention the thanks owed to our volunteers and acknowledge their importance in what we offer our community. Whilst the volunteers are giving something back, they are our biggest advocates in terms of that welcome you get when you walk through the doors. If anyone would like to join the volunteer team, we are always open to more!”