Sharon McAllister from ESP Magazine comments on the local facilities remaining on offer in Peterborough in the leisure sector following the news that the Cresset Theatre in Bretton will close.
PAUL: Let’s talk more about the Cresset then. we’ve heard from Marco Cereste and his views on the Cresset and where it leaves the nightlife in Peterborough. Let’s talk to somebody who knows all about the nightlife in Peterborough, Sharon McAllister from ESP Magazine, Peterborough’s number one entertainment magazine. Morning Sharon.
SHARON: Good morning Paul.
PAUL: Despite what Marco was saying, I think I’m one hundred per cent right. When I was around the city nightlife scene some fifteen twenty years ago, it was very vibrant. There were lots of places to go. It’s contracting, isn’t it?
SHARON: It does seem that way to some degree. Obviously there have been other areas that have grown in the entertainment sector, but what we always want of course is a balance, so that everybody of every age and all their different interests can be catered for.
PAUL: Where are we going to see bands? Where are we going to see comedians? We’re going to have to go out of town for two, three years, aren’t we?
SHARON: Well the immediate thought would be that. There are some venues in Peterborough that are underutilised, and there are places that are larger. It seems odd to us that there always seem to be these places, but they don’t seem to get the use. Even looking out of town, to something like the Exhibition Centre over at the East of England which is a huge venue. It can be cut down into smaller sizes for different levels of concert. But we haven’t really seen that used, other than for things like Holiday on Ice, and bringing some of the other outdoor events under cover, when the weather isn’t very good. But there’s venues such as the Club Metro the former bingo hall over on London Road, which is a very big venue, obviously not got the theatre style seating. And things like the Voyager School of course has got a very good theatre, but they’re not really ideally central to the city to supply the need in the way that something like the Broadway or even the Cresset would have done perhaps.
PAUL: Cannon and Ball, Hale and Pace, Billy Ocean, Val Doonican, David Essex, Jimmy Carr, they all played at the Cresset. It’s not bad going. Are we ever going to be able to attract them back do you think, those big names?
SHARON: I’d like to think so. We always like to look on the bright side and hope that the city is going to develop further. We do need to take this very seriously. Knowing that your city is on the map for touring shows, and can attract well-known starts, is definitely a real boost, and it really contributes to the pride in where you live, basically. It’s the feel-good factor. Losing venues, knowing you have to travel further out of town to see the shows you want to, it does knock the way you fell about the city, of course it does. I would hope that having listened to Marco, and they are looking into things, I would hope that the Council and other organisations do take this very very seriously. It is another cultural blow to the city. I would hope that they do take it seriously, look a bit more into it, see what can be done in the future. Even if the Cresset isn’t the answer, it does need to be factored into the future growth of Peterborough really, to see what we can provide. There’s got to be something coming up in future. (laughs) Otherwise I think you’re right in a way, Peterborough does need to have that variety. We can’t be seen to be a city where people have to go away from it in order to get their entertainmnet need fulfilled.
PAUL: Just quickly. Cresset, big advertisers in the city, advertising in your magazine as well, is there going to be a knock-on for people like yourselves?
SHARON: We’ve already seen a bit of a knock-on effect really. The recession does hit a number of different businesses. But whereas the Cresset was a really regular advertiser with ESP, I must confess that has dropped away over the last year or so. We still continue to support the venue. We always give them some editorial and try and back a lot of the nights that they have, as we do for everybody. But of course we also need revenue to survive. We’re a free magazine. We can’t cover absolutely everything for free, but we’ve endeavoured to give as much support as we can. But yes, the advertising has dropped off over the last year. It’s not been marketed in the ESP as much as it used to be.
PAUL: Sharon thank you for that. Sharon McAllister from ESP Magazine in Peterborough.