Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne
The team at Live Theatre could see “the writing on the wall” in terms of the future direction of funding: year by year there is less and less of it.
Live worked with a specialist consultant to work out how best to diversify its income beyond funding streams.
Live was able to implement it’s base for future financial stability from a one-off £6 million loan from Newcastle City Council (as well as a £2.2 million grant from the North East European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme). Taking on so much debt was a risk, but so was doing nothing in an environment of decreasing grant funding.
With this capital in the bank, Live strategically invested in a series of other enterprises: the Broad Chare pub, Live Works (young people’s writing centre and rented office space) and The Schoolhouse (a hub for creative and digital businesses).
Why this matters
What’s smart about this these enterprises draw and bolster Live’s brand and USP’s;
- it’s reputation as one of only two new writing centres outside of London
- the quality of its work and popular civic brand
- prime physical location
Although taking on so much loan debt, that must be repayed, is a risk, Live sought the most reliable income streams for return on investment; property and commercial lets. Part of the reason it was able to gain this loan in the first place was because the Theatre positions itself well within the community.
What’s significant about this mindset is it not only makes the Theatre more financially secure, crucially how Live Theatre uses its income is fully under its control. Rather than living hand-to-mouth for specific project-specific pots of funding, Live now has regular income streams it can invest in, for example, new permanent staff roles, and/ or research and development budgets for new products and services.