The organisers of the Manchester Theatre Awards (MTA) have announced that the annual event is to come to an end after 37 years.
The decision was made after discussions between the awards panel and several of the venues whose advertising on the MTA website provided much of the income to fund the trophies and other running costs.
Although the organisers did not comment any further on the exact reasons, a spokesman for the awards panel said: “We are naturally disappointed that the city’s annual ‘Oscars’ for its theatrical output – everything from major venues to fringe and studio-sized productions – will no longer enjoy an annual ‘prize-giving’.
“From the outset, we received enthusiastic support from the likes of theatrical impresarios such as Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Bill Kenwright, and many stars – whether firmly established or fast-rising – graced the annual occasion either as recipients or as on-stage presenters.
“As a result, leading regional theatres, as well as quite a few visiting performers and companies, boast MTA trophies, but we are particularly proud to have highlighted some of the great work that goes on in Manchester’s thriving fringe theatre scene and, through our separate youth panel, the talent coming out of some of the region’s youth theatre groups.
“We thank the theatres for their generous support in the past and to the panellists and youth panellists for all the time and effort they have given voluntarily in order to make the awards such a success.”
They added that “it is hoped that a statement, on behalf of the theatres concerned, will follow”. The awards team plan to continue the reviews website in a revised form.
The Manchester Theatre Awards are the largest regional theatrical prize-giving outside London and have been a major fixture on the north-west’s entertainment calendar since 1981 when they were created by the Manchester Evening News.
The MEN Theatre Awards were developed by critic Alan Hulme who wrote for the paper from 1970 to 2000. In 2011, the MEN ended its involvement but a group of former panel members, led by Hulme, continued the initiative along with other experienced critics in the region.
The awards were presented at a red-carpet event held in the city’s various venues. This year’s ceremony at The Lowry’s Quays Theatre in January included Sheridan Smith, Danny Mac and Janet Suzman among the winners and was hosted by comedian Justin Moorhouse.
Arts venue Home led the way with five awards, with the rest of the honours largely even among the area’s other venues, including two for the Oldham Coliseum, two for the Royal Exchange Theatre and other awards to The Lowry, Palace and Opera House, Hope Mill Theatre, Contact, Royal Northern College of Music and Greater Manchester Fringe festival.