Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Wolverhampton Grand Theatre is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.grandtheatre.co.uk

21WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND THEATRE |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
Express and Star Editor Keith
Harrison congratulates Business
Person of the Year 2018, Chief
Executive and Artistic Director
Adrian Jackson
Wolverhampton Grand
Theatre facade
The foundation stone was laid for Wolverhampton Grand
Theatre in June 1894. This year, it celebrates 125 years
as the focal point of live entertainment in the city of
Wolverhampton. Facing the removal of the six-figure annual grant
from the local authority, the recently appointed CEO, Adrian
Jackson, carved out a new business model for this independent
charitable trust which has now firmly secured its future survival.
Within months of my joining the Grand in 2015, the removal of the local authority
grant was confirmed. The impact of this funding cut would amount to £1.5 million
over five years, turning forecast breakevens from the current operating model into
unsustainable deficits. Dealing with this challenge was going to require not just one
strategy, but several.
Refurbishment endeavours
I identified three key areas for immediate action: improving the theatre’s front-
of-house areas, including bars, the foyer and function rooms, to encourage both
greater usage and increased revenues; a full review of financial deals; and the
implementation of dynamic pricing practices. A committed board of trustees
supported a clear vision and worked in partnership with the executive team to
facilitate delivery in each of these areas. The buy-in of an enthusiastic staff team
with, in some cases, previously underutilised skills, was invaluable.
Twenty years on from our last refurbishment, we recognised that the Grand’s
bars and public areas needed to be brought into the 21st century. We agreed
upon a bold and complementary design. While this infrastructure investment
FACTS ABOUT
WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND
THEATRE
»Chief Executive and Artistic
Director: Adrian Jackson
»Opened in 1894
»Based on Lichfield Street,
Wolverhampton
»Services: Large-scale theatre
»No. of employees: 130
»On November 24, 1918, David
Lloyd George launched the
post-war general election
campaign in a speech at the
Grand Theatre, famously
asking “What is our task? To
make Britain a fit country for
heroes to live in.”
Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
22 | WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND THEATRE
would stimulate the development of
new corporate and other high-end
partnerships, we recognised that it
should not overlook core theatregoers
including families or discourage key
educational activities as a side effect.
This refurbishment was completed over
an intensive six-week period in summer
2016 and has proven to be extremely
successful. Net income per attendee
has risen from £0.67 to a current level
of £1.14 – a 70 per cent increase.
Meanwhile, the number of networking
and other business events in the newly
designed spaces we have introduced
has also grown dramatically from four in
2016 to over 30 in the past 12 months.
Moving forward apace
As a demonstrable result of this
refurbishment, we have seen the
number of Grand Theatre sponsors
and business club members increase
from six to 19 – more than a three-
fold increase in numbers and a six-fold
increase in value.
Our next step was to change the basis
on which touring productions visited.
We adopted a more robust approach
to contracting, adjusting standard
deals to improve the theatre’s share of
ticket revenues. As a result, they now
reflect the fact that the Grand is a well-
supported theatre with appreciative
audiences; consequently, producers
want to present their shows here.
Finally, the changes we made didn’t
prove to all be solely for our benefit
– we also introduced a significant
investment which would profit both
visiting producers and our venue.
We worked closely with American
experts TRG Arts to carry out
an extensive review of audience
behaviours. Two recommendations
followed: firstly, a change of banding
structure to increase income from the
most popular seats in the auditorium,
and secondly, an ongoing and
innovative pricing strategy which
would track and respond to audience
demand by performance. This allowed
us to deploy strong, upward pricing
strategies for certain seats, which
thus improved yields. Most people
are familiar with the concept of
dynamically priced inventory when
they experience prices for hotel rooms
Adrian Jackson conducts
the proms performance
celebrating the Grand’s
reopening following its
2016 refurbishment
We adopted a
more robust
approach to
contracting,
adjusting
standard deals
to improve the
theatre’s share
of ticket
revenues
23WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND THEATRE |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
or train tickets fluctuate. A similar
approach to theatre tickets, however,
has been slower to establish itself.
Our ongoing dynamic pricing
management scheme has proven also
to be successful, improving final gross
box office revenue by an average of
2.6 per cent for each production,
which is shared with the showrunner
or producer in question.
Fully self-sustainable
We now no longer require public
money to operate. As a charitable
trust, we can now confidently ensure
that the heart of the organisation lies
with the community it serves and the
audiences who engage with it – be
they toddlers enjoying a children’s
show or fans of visiting West End
musicals. The strategic changes we
have implemented will equip the
theatre for the future, better enabling
delivery of its charitable objectives.
Education and outreach have been
a driving force of this initiative,
which has expanded and developed
through apprentice schemes, local
projects, in-school performances and
direct associations with a range of
educational establishments.
In 2017, we also devoted funds
to staging our own production of
BrassedOff
, the first in-house offering
in over 25 years.
In addition to professional actors, the
show featured a community ensemble
and musicians from local brass bands.
Producing now forms an important
part of our future strategy.
The changes made have fundamentally
secured our position, making the
venue more attractive to audiences,
business partners and commercial
producers.
As a knock-on effect, we can also
proudly state that these improvements
have brought a wider benefit – the
more people engage with the theatre,
the more they actively engage with the
city’s broader economy.
As a charitable
trust, we can
now confidently
ensure that the
heart of the
organisation lies
with the
community it
serves and the
audiences who
engage with it
»AWARDS
Winner:
»Wolverhampton Independent Retail
Excellence Awards 2018
Best Hospitality and Leisure
Business
»Express & Star Business Awards
Business Person of the Year 2018
Adrian Jackson
»Black Country Chamber of
Commerce Awards 2017
Best Use of Social Media and
Young Person or Apprentice of
the Year (Libbie Doyle – Education
Apprentice)
Finalist:
»Express & Star Business Awards 2018
Small to Medium Sized Business of
the Year
»WIRE Awards 2018
Community Contributor of the Year
“Arthur’s of the Grand” – the
newly refurbished dress circle bar

www.grandtheatre.co.uk

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister