​Arts & Culture

Published: May 4, 2022 | Updated: May 5, 2022

Chris makes tracks for a new concept at The Tank Museum after a rollercoaster two years

Chris Jenkins, Director, MRC Presents: “It’s been a tough few years but we’re seeing our shows come back strongly and I’m excited about the future.” Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

To say Chris Jenkins has had a rollercoaster two years is something of an understatement.

As the boss of a live entertainment company, producing, promoting and managing some of the most successful touring theatre shows and artists in Europe, he saw business drop off a cliff as a result of the pandemic.

He said: “We had 750 one-night shows on sale in 2020 and were on track for one million tickets and then March hit and we went to zilch.

“I told the team that we’re going to have to postpone the shows and clear the decks. Privately I thought to myself that I’m going to be taking a lot of time off.”

And that proved to be the case as the company he’d built up with a business partner, and responsible for some of the UK’s best known one-night theatre acts – from Dreamboys and Psychic Sally to ELO and Abba tribute acts – was forced to shed staff and cancel shows.

Chris, 42, who attended Portchester and St Peters’ schools as well as the Arts University Bournemouth, said: “Luckily all the seven or so people in the team had other jobs to go to but it was pretty grim and not very pleasant.

“On a personal level, though, it made me reflect on life and decide I want to spend more time with my family and more time in this area.”

Now business is steadily building with his shows returning to theatres across the UK while Chris, formerly Business Development Manager at the BIC and Pavilion, is piloting a new concept in Dorset.

And he’s very excited, not least because the venue is a personal, and family, favourite.

For his company, MRC Presents, is rolling out the big guns in tribute acts for three concerts at The Tank Museum in July.

The inaugural MRC Presents’ Open Air Concerts take place from Friday 22 to Sunday July 24 and feature ABBA, Queen and ELO tribute acts on separate nights.

Chris said: “It’s something of a pivot for us as we’ve always done indoor theatre shows.

“The Tank Museum is the perfect venue.

“It’s always been one of my favourite places, ever since my childhood, and because we live in Wareham, it’s almost a second home. We’re frequently there and we love it.

“I approached The Tank Museum because we want to partner with established venues that can host our shows and where we can go in and out in a day.

“These shows, each celebrating a legendary music act, regularly wow theatre audiences up and down the country, but it’s really exciting to place these theatre-quality productions in a very different setting.

“We’re also handling all the ticket sales which means there’s no ticket agency involved, no booking fees and every ticket is covered by refund protection at no extra cost.”

Numbers for each show are deliberately being kept down to a maximum of 1,200.

Chris said: “Basically we’re replicating what we do in theatres up and down the land but at an outside venue.

“The Tank Museum has a nice feeling about it and the facilities are excellent.

“I’m really excited about it. The ticket sales are where we’d expect at this point but we have no idea what will happen as it’s such a new concept for us.

“However, if it works then we’ll certainly be bringing it to other venues in the future.”

Chris, a father of three who started promoting bands from the age of 14, said that despite the difficulties of the past few years “this is still a brilliant industry to work in.”

He added: “I now have an incredibly talented four-strong team in the office allowing me to step back a bit – at least in theory – to focus on new projects.

“It’s been a tough few years but we’re seeing our shows come back strongly and I’m excited about the future.”

Tickets for the MRC Presents’ Open Air Concerts are available to book at showplanr.com/TANK.

Gates open at 6pm each evening with food and drink available to purchase on-site and the concerts all starting at approximately 8pm.

On-site parking is free for ticket holders.

Groups of 20+ are being offered a discount.

Any interested groups need to email questions@showplanr.com – the offer is not available to book online.

For qualifying groups tickets will cost £25 each instead of £30.