The reopening of the Stockton Globe has been hailed as a success despite challenges thrown up by the pandemic, with a reported £6m worth of ticket sales.

Council chiefs say the restored High Street theatre has weathered difficult conditions as it establishes itself on the touring circuit. They believe the ticket sales figures from operator Ambassador Theatre Group, which runs the venue, would place the Globe among the UK’s top ten venues.

Reuben Kench, director of community services, environment and culture for Stockton Council, described the Globe as a tremendously popular and economically important venue. He said: “Globe theatre tickets have been sold since opening that have been worth more than £6m.

“That represents 185,000 tickets. It is making great progress.”

He said there had been a post-Covid dip for the performing arts and hospitality, with sales still below pre-pandemic levels, a shortage of national and international touring products and caution among producers and promoters. “Despite that, and with a venue which is still very much establishing its position on the touring circuit, we think the Globe’s ticket sales are very very positive.

“And the success of recent events like the sales of Six the Musical is evidence that there is demand, there is a willingness of promoters to bring their shows to this town. And there is an appetite for people to visit it from within the borough and beyond.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that the audiences are enjoying the place and are attending. Shows are attracting people from outside the area as well as satisfying a local demand.

To read more quality stories, subscribe to the D&S Times for unlimited access, puzzles, Reader Rewards with hundreds of offers, deals and discounts and full access to our app

“Against the difficult backdrop, any venue would struggle to establish itself in a post-Covid environment. The Globe is doing very well in our opinion.

“It would take a few years to get to a steady state even without the pandemic. There is a success to be celebrated, but it’s an emerging success.”

The refurbished Globe Theatre in Stockton

The refurbished Globe Theatre in Stockton

The council believes the figures would place the Stockton venue high in industry rankings among UK venues. And its political leaders intend to answer their critics after the renovation of the Grade II listed theatre, which once played host to The Beatles, became a matter of debate, with the Conservative opposition accusing the Labour-led council of pouring public money into a “vanity project”.

Cllr Steve Nelson, the council’s cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, said: “We hear this negativity about it and this is frustrating for me. What I would say is, Stockton Borough Council is a deliverer. When it says it will do something, it delivers.

“What would we have? A dark, closed-down centre? We refuse to do that.

“We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. If we bring something like the Globe on we get criticised for doing that, and if we hadn’t done that and it was just a boarded-up building falling to rack and ruin, then you get criticised for not having a vision and not doing something.

“At some point in time the majority of people will have ended up visiting and enjoying the Globe. The Globe is embedded in the social memory of the borough.

“More and more people are spending on experiences that provide memories rather than things. They want experiences and the Globe provides lifelong memories.

Inside the Globe Theatre in Stockton, which has played host to some of the UKs biggest ever stars over the years

Inside the Globe Theatre in Stockton, which has played host to some of the UK's biggest ever stars over the years

“I’ve got memories of every single act I’ve seen there and I’ll have them forever. It adds a social value as well as an economic value to the town and the borough. How do you put a value on that?

“The customers are making that choice about where they spend their money, even during a cost of living crisis. The people of the borough and beyond have decided what represents value for money for them.”

Mr Kench said: “Social experiences, connectedness, distraction, the opportunity to leave behind your concerns about the day-to-day and be immersed in something, that’s really valuable. For people’s emotional and mental wellbeing that might be as valuable as other areas of investment that are explicitly or overtly to do with health care or social care.”

He said they were trying to strike a balance and stimulate economic growth, bringing in acts like Fontaines DC, John Richardson, Nick Cave and Derren Brown. He added: “We’re talking about the right that local people have to expect something to be on in their area.

“You grow up in a place and if you habitually have to get on a train to go out of town to another city to see the things you want to see, what do you feel about that place you live in? You don’t feel as proud of it.”

A spokesman for Ambassador Theatre Group said: “We have looked at top level published data including tickets sold and gross ticket sales to provide a rough benchmark for our previous year’s activity. There are many additional factors to take into consideration, however we can see from this initial research we are performing favourably against the likes of Sheffield and Newcastle City Halls.

“Stockton Globe continues to go from strength to strength since its reopening in September 2021. It’s great to see the venue positively benchmarking against other live entertainment venues and recognise the hard work from all parties in achieving this.

“We are excited to continue growing the Stockton Globe’s impact on both the Tees Valley region and the wider industry.”