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New Swansea Arena appoints general manager

Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has announced the appointment of Lisa Mart as general manager of its soon-to-open Swansea Arena.

Mart comes to Swansea Arena with nine years of experience at ATG, initially at New Wimbledon Theatre (1,670-cap.) in south-west London, where she was theatre director, and then at the Alexandra (1,347-cap.) in Birmingham, where she oversaw a £650,000 refurbishment and relaunch that completed in October 2018.

The 3,500-seat capacity indoor venue marks the first arena-sized project for ATG, best known as an operator of London West End theatres. The company is majority owned by Providence Equity Partners, and received an injection of funding from Australia’s TEG late last year.

The new arena, part of the £135 million Copr Bay urban regeneration project in Wales’s second-largest city, is expected to open later this year.

“I am incredibly pleased and excited to be starting as general manager of the Swansea Arena; to be given this huge and rare opportunity of not only opening a brand-new venue, but also being a part of the wider regeneration of Swansea and its transformational project of Copr Bay, is a real honour,” comments Mart.

“The arena has been beautifully designed and will really be able to provide the local community and visitors with a variety of spaces and options to fit any size and scale of meeting or event,” she adds. “I can’t wait to start talking to and working with businesses to really discover how best to support their needs in this area.

“The arena will help strengthen the city’s cultural and entertainment scene further”

“As soon as restrictions allow, I will be re-exploring Swansea and surrounding areas – I’m keen to meet as many people as possible to really learn of the expectations of residents, businesses and locals on how they hope to work with us as we maximise the local impact of this amazing arena.”

ATG is also recruiting for other senior arena roles, including a head of sales and marketing, a building and technical manager and a conference and events manager, which will open for applications in the coming weeks.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, comments: “We are delighted to welcome Lisa to Swansea’s thriving and buoyant cultural community.

“She brings skill and experience that will help the arena complement the programming of other great local cultural venues and locations, such as the Grand Theatre, Brangwyn Hall, Singleton Park and many others.

“The arena will help strengthen the city’s cultural and entertainment scene further for many thousands of residents and visitors. It will act as a catalyst for the city centre’s £1bn transformation.”

 


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TEG invests in Ambassador Theatre Group

Sydney-based live entertainment group TEG has acquired a minority stake in West End theatre operator Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG).

ATG, which is majority owned by Providence Equity Partners (Superstruct Entertainment, Tait), owns or manages around 50 venues globally, including many of London’s best-known theatres. Its portfolio includes the Savoy and Lyceum theatres in London, the Lyric and Hudson in New York, and a growing stable of UK music venues, including the upcoming Stockton Globe and Swansea Arena.

In conjunction with Providence, which paid £350 million for ATG in 2013, TEG – itself owned by a private-equity firm, Silver Lake – will reportedly inject £160m in new equity into ATG as UK theatres tentatively reopen.

It is the first acquisition for TEG – a ticketing, touring and venues company with offices across the Asia-Pacific region – in the UK since its buy-out of the former MJR Group last year. The company hired a new director of M&A in May.

In addition to its venue portfolio, ATG operates the UK’s most visited theatre website, ATGtickets.com, selling around 11 million tickets a year pre-coronavirus. The London-based company, which employs around 4,000 people, laid off 1,200 casual staff earlier this month.

 


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UK venues announce redundancies

Some of the UK’s most iconic venues have recently announced wide-reaching staff redundancies as the financial pressures of the Covid-19 shutdown continue to bite.

The news of sweeping staff layoffs in venues including the Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House, come just as venues in England are finally given the go-ahead to reopen, albeit under restricted circumstances.

The announcements also come in the wake of the losses of well loved Manchester venues Gorilla and Deaf Institute last week, as well as VMS Live’s Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear.

London’s Southbank Centre, a multi-venue arts and culture complex including the 2,700-capacity Royal Festival Hall, is to make up to two thirds of its staff redundant, equating to around 400 roles.

The centre, which has previously warned it may be forced to close until at least April 2021 without the correct support, has already furloughed the majority of its 600 employees and pecits a deficit of £5.1m for the current financial year.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy,” says a spokesperson for the venue.

The spokesperson says the cuts form part of a management plan designed “to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.”

The news comes as the Royal Opera House (ROH) announces it is laying off its entire team of casual workers.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy”

It is unclear how many jobs are affected, but the organisation has confirmed that all casual contracts have been terminated and a process of voluntary redundancies among other staff is already underway.

“It is with huge sadness that we have begun a restructure process,” reads a post on the ROH Twitter page. “The scale of financial pressure on ROH alongside continued restrictions on our ability to perform to live audiences, has resulted in this very difficult decision.”

The post adds that ROH’s director of music, Antonio Pappano, has forgone his salary since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, with the venue’s chief executive, Alex Beard, also taking a “significant reduction” in pay.

The National Theatre in London has also signalled its intention to proceed with around 400 redundancies among its casual staff base, including 250 front-of-house workers.

The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), is another organisation to announce it is planning redundancies across its UK workforce.

ATG, which operates close to 50 venues worldwide including theatres Bristol Hippodrome, London’s Lyceum Theatre, Sunderland Empire, Manchester’s Palace Theatre and the Alexandra in Birmingham, as well as live venues Swansea Arena and the Stockton Globe, says layoffs may affect around 5% of its staff, predominantly those working in its head offices in London and Woking.

The operator has also said that while it zero-hours staff will continue to be supported by the government’s furlough scheme, arrangements beyond that have not been confirmed.

The wave of redundancies come despite the UK government’s recently announced £1.57 billion rescue package for arts and culture and a reduction in the value-added tax (VAT) levied on concert and event tickets, from 20% to 5%.

It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed across the sector.

Photo: Saval/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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ATG expands into UK arenas with new Swansea venue

The construction of a new 3,500-capacity arena in Swansea, Wales, began today (Wednesday 27 November) as part of a £1 billion regeneration of the city centre.

Swansea Arena, opening in 2021, is the latest live music venue in the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) portfolio, in addition to the Stockton Globe, which is reopening next year.

With almost 50 entertainment venues, Providence Equity-backed ATG hosts acts including Pet Shop Boys, Snow Patrol and Emeli Sandé in the UK, Lionel Richie, Al Green, Lauryn Hill and Lenny Kravitz in the US and Bonnie Tyler, FKA Twigs and Sinead O’Connor in Germany.

ATG also operates the UK’s most visited theatre website ATGtickets.com and overall sells around 11 million tickets a year.

“ATG has nearly 30 years’ experience of managing venues but this is an exciting moment that sees us expanding our portfolio to UK arenas”

“We have been working with Swansea Council for a period of time now to make the Arena a world class venue for music, comedy, conferencing and events in South Wales,” comments Mark Cornell, CEO of ATG.

“ATG has nearly 30 years’ experience of working with councils and managing venues but this is an exciting moment that sees us expanding our portfolio to UK arenas following our success across the UK, US and Germany.”

“Swansea Arena is an incredibly exciting addition to ATG,” adds Katy Arnander (pictured), ATG content development director. “The new arena will be at the forefront of our music, comedy, events and exhibitions strategy as well as presenting new content like gaming and esports which is a perfect fit for such a technologically advanced arena.”

The arena is funded by Swansea Council and part-funded by the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal.

For update of when tickets go on sale at Swansea Arena, join the mailing list here.

 


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