Rose Theatre project – further details published

£197,308 rent offered for use of Castle car park

The York Council is being recommended to close part of the City’s most popular car park, next to Clifford’s Tower, between 21st May and 23rd September next summer.

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will be Europe’s first full-scale working replica of a traditional Shakespearean Theatre which is modelled loosely on a combination of the Rose Theatre and the Globe Theatre which were built in 1587 and 1599 respectively.

 It will aim to attract 100,000 people over the ten-week season, including up to 20,000 students.

It is unclear whether the lessons of last year’s Mystery Plays have been learned. There, matinee performances mostly sold out while evening mid-week performances were markedly less popular.

The twelve-sided, three storey building will create a theatre experience for approximately 950 people including a standing audience of 300 who will enjoy a “high level of involvement in the show”. With a 100+m2 stage most of the audience are within 15m of the action. Around the theatre there will be a “Taste Village”, show casing local food and beverage as well as an area for free wagon performances.

Four plays: Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Richard III and A Midsummer Nights Dream, will be produced by esteemed UK directors, including potentially a production by York Theatre Royal. Approximately 140 shows are anticipated over a ten-week season.

Ticket prices for adults will start at £12.50

The report details how the Council will be compensated for the loss of parking spaces,

“135 car parking spaces will be needed for the pop-up theatre (out of the 318 available).

Lunchbox will reimburse the Council a total of £197,308:

  • £1,616 per day for the period 28 May to 19 June
  • £1,679 per day for the period 20 June to 4 September
  • £1,616 per day for the period 5 September to 16 September”

The report goes on to say, “There is a small risk that the council will lose £40k of revenue”

The Piccadilly multi storey would remain open in the evening for the use of theatre goers.

On the future of the Castle car park the Council report says,

“One of the key aims of the high-level vision, and the working assumption for the master planners, is that the Castle Car Park is to be closed and replaced with alternative uses”.

 “The temporary part-closure of the car park for the theatre would allow officers to understand the impact of the displacement of car parking on the highway network over a significant period of time without incurring the associated loss of revenue.

 Furthermore, it would also start to break the public perception of this area as a car park and encourage further public debate about its future”.

In effect, it is now clear that the Council plans to close the Castle car park on a permanent basis.

No details are provided of any spin off benefits that could be garnered from staging an “Elizabethan” themed summer in the City.

However, the four yearly Wagon Plays – which date from 1386 –  are due to be staged in the City  next summer.

There is no risk analysis included in the papers assessing any reputational risk associated with large number of visitors failing to find a convenient transport system in operation.

The Councils “free parking space” internet based system collapsed 4 years ago and many of the “on street” information signs have only recently started being brought back into service.

The Council is apparently mindful that part of the (woefully uneven) car park will need to be resurfaced to make it safe for pedestrians (which rather begs the question of the risk posed to current users when they get out of their vehicles!)

So, there is still a lot of work to be done with some risk still attached to what is basically an imaginative project

Questions raised about “Rose Theatre” reconstruction timetable

Reconstructed Rose Theatre planned for Castle car park

It seems that the announcement on Saturday – through the pages of the Yorkshire Post – took many people by surprise. Tourist organisations, the local authority, businesses and other media outlets were left playing “catch up” as they scrambled to give their take, on the event, to a receptive audience.

It seems that the leaked information came from the prospective producers of the plays and may have been prompted by concerns that the temporary use of the Castle car park was due to be mentioned – unspecifically – in the York Councils Forward Plan which was published on Monday.

The plan says that the project will be discussed at the Councils Executive meeting taking place on 31st August. The background papers for that meeting will be published in a couple of weeks’ time.

Sources at the Council claim that there is still much work to be done to come up with an effective alternative parking/transport plan to make up for the loss of capacity and income from the Castle car park – York’s busiest.

Barley Hall off Stonegate

There is limited spare capacity on most days of the year at the adjacent Coppergate centre multi storey (287 spaces) and St Georges Field (150 spaces) but nothing like sufficient to make up for a loss of 360 spaces at Castle. The Council has recently closed the Castle Mills car park leaving private sector options like Garden Place, Tanner Row and George Street anticipating a big hike in income.

But it is the timing of the announcement that leads to concerns.

Arguably any debate about a project of this size should have been concluded months ago.

 An “Elizabethan” themed summer tourist season could provide a major boost for period visitor attractions, like the Barley Hall and the Merchant Adventurers Hall, while also helping to maintain high customer numbers at hotels and restaurants.

During its Shakespearian season, the Rose project hopes to attract circa 50,000 paying customers.

To put that in context, it is nearly three times more than attended last year’s Mystery Plays at the Minister.

Marketing of the event needs to start soon.

Merchant Adventurers Hall – a stones throw from the proposed Rose Theatre location

Major hotels and visitor attractions in York are already drafting their programmes and brochures for 2018. It would be a shame if this important event wasn’t given the prominence that it deserves.

One of the reasons why the Mystery Plays didn’t attract the hoped for level of attendance was lack of early publicity in key Far East and American markets. Decisions on 2018 long haul holiday destinations will be taken by many potential visitors over the next few weeks.

So, if there is frustration at the pace of progress on the Rose Theatre project, we can understand it. The York Council and Visit York have a relatively short time to maximise the economic value that a quality “Elizabethan” summer experience could bring to the City.

As we saw with the TdF “Grand Departee concert fiasco, long term planning is all important.

Hopefully the lessons have been learned.

What’s on in York: Shakespeare Week at Dringhouses Library

Dringhouses Library :

Mon 22 – Sat 27 May :

Free

ShakespeareAs part of the York international Shakespeare Festival, Dringhouses Library is having Shakespeare Week.

See an exhibition of local artist Ben Sawyer’s amusing Shakespeare-inspired comic-strips all week.

Zounds, Alack, and By My Troth is a weekly series of comic strips inspired by the works of William Shakespeare and drawn in old school black and white penciling. The site features pastiches of famous moments, illustrated sonnets and the continuing adventures of Will himself as he tries to get by as a jobbing Tudor playwright – aided and abetted by the mysterious wild-haired woman known only as The Lady.

Join us for some Shakespeare style songs and stories at our under 5s storytimes at 11am on Thursday 25 and Saturday 27, and sign up for our Shakespeare-a-thon on Tuesday 23 May, where we try to fill the building with Shakespeare’s timeless words all day – sign up at the library for a time-slot.

The Shakespeare-a-thon will be on all day Tuesday – come along and read some of Shakespeare’s fabulous work. Choose an extract from his 38 plays, sonnets, or poems, and read for 5-10 minutes. Sign up for a timeslot in advance or just turn up on the day. Help us to fill the library with Shakespeare’s wonderful words all day.

Come to our launch event then please come along during normal library opening times for our Shakespeare week long events.

For more information please call Lucy on (01904) 552674 or dringhouses@exploreyork.org.uk.