University and Opera House work in perfect harmony to make sure show goes on

5 January 2017

Buxton’s economy has received a boost thanks to an innovative partnership pioneered by the University of Derby’s commercial wing.

Business Development Manager Christine Sweetmore helped the town win a contract for Avant Homes, one of the UK’s leading privately-owned house-builders, to hold its annual conference here.

“As a Derbyshire-based company, Avant really wanted to come to Buxton, but couldn’t find a venue in the town big enough for its 500 delegates,” said Christine.

“At 3am one morning, I had a brainwave: why not use Buxton Opera House for the conference?”

Avant homes at night with a white car in front

With the venue secured, Avant Homes, which is based in Chesterfield, could go ahead and book nearly every hotel room in the town, plus the Devonshire Dome in the University’s Buxton Campus for a gala banquet, planned, organised and catered for by students.

“It must be worth a lot to the town’s economy,” said Christine, who worked in the hotel business locally when Buxton was a major conference town.

She would like to see that era return, and believes packaging venues together this way might allow it to happen: “It’s all about using the resources of the town together. We’ve got such a beautiful town but so often we are working work independently when we should be working more co-operatively.”

Jenny Mather, Buxton Opera House & Pavilion Arts Centre Business Development Officer, said: “Our theatres stage around 500 performances every year as part of a packed programme of live events. On those rare occasions when we don’t have an entertainment show booked in, we are able to take bookings for other types of events.

“We were delighted to welcome Avant Homes to the theatre in November for their day’s conference and we are grateful to the University for referring them. We had a great response from all the delegates who said they enjoyed spending the day in such a resplendent setting.”