At a meeting of its Executive on Monday 5 February, councillors agreed to extend the existing contract with Parkwood until January 2019. Following the collapse of North Devon Theatres Trust last year, the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple and Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe were forced to close temporarily. In April, the council entered into a 12-month contract with Parkwood to reopen the theatres while it prepared and tendered a longer-term contract for the operation of both theatres.
Preparing the tender documents (which involves undertaking condition surveys of both theatres) for the long-term contract will take more time than originally thought and the procurement will not be completed by April this year (when the short-term contract with Parkwood was due to expire).
Rather than a further closure period, the council has agreed to extend Parkwood’s contract until mid-January 2019. This will ensure that the theatres continue to recover from the unexpected closure last year and run as normal, unaffected by the procurement of operational contracts.
Since April last year, the main focus has been on developing a strong programme of events at the Queens Theatre, which has been very well received by local audiences. Now that the Queens is operating at full capacity again, Parkwood’s extended contract will include a requirement for more events at the Landmark Theatre. Several strong acts are already confirmed, including comedians Jason Manford and Ed Byrne and the new contract will see an average of one event each week at the Landmark, between April 2018 and January 2019 .