Every £1 spent by Worthing Borough Council on its theatres returns more than £7 into the local economy, a new report says.

The economic report by destination consultancy Blue Sail says Worthing Theatres is doing a good job attracting both spending into the borough but also retaining consumers within the borough who might otherwise go elsewhere.

“The success of Worthing Theatres will help the Borough fulfil the cultural needs of its communities and also support inward investment,” the report says.

The report highlights:

·        Total income for 2015/17 was £3.5m including ticket sales, catering and merchandise

·        Direct impact on the economy is estimated to be £6m based on spend of customers, local purchasing and staff spending.

·        More than £3m a year spent in restaurants, shops, hospitality and travel by theatre-goers from outside Worthing

·        More than half (53 per cent) of those attending live with in the borough or Adur district keeping cultural spend local.

The report identifies a renaissance at Worthing Theatres based on a more diverse programme which has led feedback survey satisfaction scores to rise from 3.9 per cent in 2015 to 4.3 in 2017.

Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Customer Services, Cllr Dr Heather Mercer said, “This report confirms what we have always said; that our investment in culture and in particular Theatres pays dividends.

“It’s not only that people who live here have a richer cultural experience nor that those looking to move to the coast will often look at what our leisure offering is. It’s actually an investment in our economy that far outstrips the amount of money we put in.

“People wouldn’t question spending on many other services, and rightly so, but I wonder how many actually make such a return on our investment. This is down to the hard work and talent of our Theatres team who really have turned the venues into must-go destinations.”

Applying models used by the Economic Impact of UK Theatres Study for the Arts Council and similar studies for Chichester and Brighton the report estimates that £6,055,000 is the positive accumulative  effect on Worthing’s economy made up of ticket sales, direct spending, spending by staff and spending of goods and services by Theatres in the local economy.

Standards practice when making economic impact studies like these is to look at direct spend such as ticket sales and catering and also to examine the ripple effect of such spending so that suppliers of services such as restaurants and wine merchants benefit and use services services such as accountants and plumbers themselves.

Meanwhile the year has got off to a flying start at Worthing Theatres with three national tours  getting the highest ticket sales in Worthing. David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny is now virtually sold out more than a month before the performances and tickets are going fast for all childrens’ theatre shows particularly for  Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs. In addition contemporary dance piece Atomos by Wayne Mcgregor played to a near full house. The result of these successful sales is that Worthing Theatres are increasingly being seen as a definite on the touring schedules of top companies.

In addition tickets for top-flight comedians and comedy shows, including Milton Jones, Reginald D Hunter, Joe Lycett, Ant Middleton have sold out and Mother's Ruin, a comedy cabaret about gin has just a handful of tickets left.

Takings for next Christmas’ panto are already at £70,000 following on the success of this year’s Snow White production for which CBeebies Richard David Cain is on the shortlist for best supporting male at the Great British Panto Awards.

Worthing Borough Council’s Head of Culture, Amanda O’Reilly said; “I’m really pleased with the audience reaction to the shows this year we are building our reputation with the top touring companies and show producers, something that hasn’t always been the case.

“The more diverse and excellent the offering the more people come and the more that helps our local economy as the Blue Sail report makes clear.”