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Agenda item

Orchard Theatre Annual Report & Accounts for the Year ending 31 March 2019 (Work Programme)

To note the attached report and Appendices.


The report from the Leisure & Communities Officer enclosed for Members’ consideration, the Orchard Theatre Annual Report & Accounts for the Year ended 31 March 2019 [attached as Appendices B and C]. The Council’s Monitoring Schedule for the provision of Services by HQ Theatres & Hospitality at The Orchard Theatre Dartford Limited, was attached as Appendix A to the covering report.


The Chairman renewed his concerns over the late presentation of the report as a ‘To-Follow’ item, only received by Members the previous day.


The Committee Co-ordinator repeated his explanation for obtaining report material from outside bodies [Min. No. 21 refers]. The circumstances surrounding the timely submission of the Orchard Theatre Annual Report and Accounts for 2018-19 had been particularly challenging. The new Orchard Theatre Director, Lorna Strawson, was preparing her first annual report following her succession of Chris Glover. Unfortunately, she was on an extended period of annual leave when the report request had been made, but had responded as soon as possible on her return. The requirement was firmly noted in her 2020 diary for the timely submission of the 2019-20 report and accounts.


In general discussion Members noted the high quality of The Orchard Theatre operation under the management of HQ Theatres & Hospitality, with the venue continuing to operate above capacity and expectation, and in excess of the national average for other provincial theatre operations. Members asked that their appreciation of the efforts of the Theatre Director and her staff be recorded in the minutes.


The Vice-Chairman expressed his particular appreciation of the higher than average number of productions for children and young adults in the Orchard programme for 2018-19, but questioned the 54 days devoted to the Pantomime production, and proposed that it be shortened to 40 days for the future, in favour of more productions in other genres.


The Lead Member for Parks, Open Spaces & Heritage attending to respond to Members’ questions, advised the Committee that the Orchard Theatre management operated a flexible policy regarding the Pantomime whereby matinee sessions that were poorly booked, were successfully replaced with other shows, whilst retaining the evening performance of the Panto as demand dictated.


The Leisure & Communities Officer confirmed for Members that the Monitoring Schedule [attached as Appendix A to his covering report] acted as a guide to Theatre Management concerning the number of days devoted to individual production types, it was not a prescriptive document.


He supported the Lead Member in his view that the number of days devoted to Pantomime in the Orchard’s annual programme be retained, and that HQ Theatres continue to manage the number of Pantomime days in the season on a flexible basis.

In subsequent discussion, the consensus amongst Members was that the present allocation of 54 days devoted to the Pantomime season at The Orchard Theatre should continue, under the flexible management of HQ Theatres Limited, and in response to public demand.




1.    That the Annual Report and Accounts for The Orchard Theatre Dartford Limited for 2018-19 as set out in Appendices B and C to the covering report be noted;


2.    That The Orchard Theatre Director and her staff be congratulated on the continued high standards achieved by the Theatre Management in excess of expectations and general market trends at comparable venues.

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