Greater Manchester art complex faces £1million utility bill this winter | Culture

It could cost nearly a million pounds to keep the lights on at a Greater Manchester theater this winter as energy bills will triple.

The Lowry, a theater and gallery complex in Salford, said it was facing a bill “significantly” in excess of the Arts Council’s annual grant of £860,000, posing a “major challenge” for the charitable organization.

“Compared to the previous year, we expect Lowry’s electricity bill to triple for the year 2022-23.

“To give you an idea of ​​the magnitude of this increase, this amount is significantly more than the amount Lowry receives annually from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Funding Program,” said Lowry’s managing director, Julia Fawcett.

She said she could not disclose the exact expected electricity costs: “As we are actively renegotiating contracts and suppliers, unfortunately we are unable to disclose the exact figure at this time as it is commercially sensitive.”

While the organization has committed to reducing its energy consumption, its energy bill will rise significantly this year, in line with national increases. “We believe this is a major challenge that will be felt across our industry,” said Fawcett.

Named after early 20th-century painter LS Lowry, known for his industrial scenes of north-west England, the steel-and-glass-clad building only opened in October 2000, so cutting-edge compared to many drafty old theatres.

But it remains expensive to run, with annual construction-related costs alone at £1.9 million. The organization made a loss of £659,000 in the past financial year, partly due to ongoing problems related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In non-pandemic times, however, the Lowry has a successful, largely self-sustaining business model.

It relies heavily on earned and contributed revenue (93.7%), receiving only 6.3% of total government funding – from the Arts Council England, Salford City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

“We are a leading institution, the most visited cultural venue in the North West with 850,000 visitors a year and generating £30m+ gross value added [gross value added] per year. We are home to the LS Lowry collection and present/commission over 900 productions a year across all genres. Our business model is flexible and built for resilience, allowing us to shift when needed and in the face of external change,” said Fawcett.

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