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Our regional impact

Our first performances were given in 2017 in a newly equipped and updated theatre and auditorium. The first year consisted of four new opera productions, and two concert performances of musical theatre and the Verdi Requiem.

The income raised from ticket sales covers about half of the total costs of the festival. The rest comes from philanthropy, predominantly private - individuals, trusts, foundations, Gift Aid, and an occasional but modest helping hand from more public sources.

70% of our audience come from within 90 minutes drive of our location. This is the first crucial aspect of the importance of regionality to our operation. We are a cultural hub for our region, centred on the county of Hampshire south west of London, but radiating out to include our neighbouring counties of Berkshire, Wiltshire, Surrey, Sussex, which could in some measure be called Home Counties, home that is a southern radius of London. Our main easily accessible catchment area has a population of 7 1/4 million, and including Greater London (which starts about an hour away from The Grange), 16 million.

Our more distant audience is growing together with a steadily growing international cohort. However, depending on ever larger numbers who travel a long way to get to us is increasingly unsustainable over the long term, I would suggest. Our distant audience needs to be reached and engaged meaningfully in other ways, as so many in the performance arts are agreeing, and achieving with success. Regular long distance personal travel cannot be an essential ingredient to any business plan.

We impact our region, our locality if you like, in other meaningful ways, not least in the supply and provision of our festival - local staff, local suppliers across the board, local commerce. I hesitate to give you an economic multiplier, because most of our audience, as I have stressed, go back home after a show. But the local economy is boosted by our operation in many hidden areas.

In the UK, music was removed from our National Curriculum 40 years ago. It probably seemed a good idea at the time, but it has had far reaching consequences which have undoubtedly made the national educational experience less effective both cognitively and creatively. And less fun.

We work throughout the year with words and music and dance and design to help children and teenagers be a little more creative in their thinking, a little more collaborative in their work, a little more effective when they talk and write. All of the organisations represented in this room I know try and do the same. We have. If we don’t who will.

This is the most important part of our regional engagement for me. And I believe it may become the most important part of everything we do.

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