Issued to friends and supporters 17th September 2012
After the appointment of a new Theatres Manager the Trust feels that it is time to withdraw and allow the new management to move forward.
In our last e-newsletter in May we updated you on the current state of play with Worthing theatres and the role that WTT had been asked to perform on the Theatres Advisory Board.
At that stage The Assembly Hall was moved onto a ‘limited programme’, catering had already moved ‘In-House’ and WTT had been asked to comment on the first draft of the business plan produced in-house by the theatres management. Since then Worthing Theatres has appointed Amanda O’Reilly as Peter Bailey’s replacement. She has moved across from running the Spring Arts & Heritage Centre in Havant and prior to that has worked in senior positions in larger venues.
Chris Jordan (Theatre Manager) from Eastbourne Theatres was asked to sit in on the interviews in order to provide much needed professional guidance on the recruitment process.
To bring the story up to that point:
The Resignation of Peter Bailey and the submission of a second internal business plan
The Manager of Worthing Theatres for 30 years announced he was retiring on August 15th. The Council then placed ads in the Stage, the Guardian and other platforms seeking a replacement – as Commercial Manager so there is still no provision for a Creative Director perhaps working in tandem with an Operations/Business Director as recommended in the Trust Tender. The salary is advertised as being around £50k. Amanda O’Reilly has subsequently been appointed.
The revised internal business plan was submitted to Council in the week commencing 25th June and a meeting of the Theatres Advisory Board was called for Wednesday 4th July 2pm at Worthing Town Hall to review this version of the plan. Once again, the Trustees were given very little prior sight of the revised plan and Jon, Roy and Chris had to produce on the spot reactions to a number of the elements of the plan. To cut a long story short, there remained strong reservations about the financial robustness of some of the financial assumptions and a lack of accurate predictions and analysis of show genres and their application to seat sales.
However, in the light of the new appointment and the end of the previous era of management, the Trust now feels that a natural line in the sand has been reached.
Trust Chairman Jon Woodley said,
“Our efforts to support the theatres locally have been met with polite interest at best and apathy at worst.
Since failing in our bid to take over the Theatres, the Trust has tried to foster a partnership approach and agreed to participate in the newly set up Advisory Board. However, the process has seen a general reluctance from Worthing Borough Council to utilise this input when it would benefit theatre management, staff and the community at no cost.
We were surprised in the Business Plan creation process that no new thinking was evident and disappointed that the offer of free external advice and support was declined. Our associates and patrons who offered their input to make the most of our local theatres were also somewhat surprised not to be asked for their input.
It has been depressing to see the barriers put up to the contribution of so many wonderful and skilled people under the auspices of Worthing Theatres Trust, donating their time and money to help to improve the theatre offering in Worthing whilst reducing the cost to the taxpayer.
The appointment of a new Theatre Commercial Manager, however, is a positive step forward alongside the continued development of the business plan which is heading in the right direction and in the light of this we will continue to strive for the best possible theatre provision for the town as individual theatre supporters and would ask all our valued supporters to do the same.
We hope that this is the start of a more positive and efficient operation providing first class theatre in our town at best value to the taxpayers, and welcome in the fresh energy and vision that the new manager will bring.
At present it would be unhelpful to proffer our services onto a new manager who needs to be able to bring their own ideas to the table, but would welcome the opportunity to support the operation of Worthing Theatres should this be required, and, rest assured, we are ready to spring back into action should the future of these buildings be put at risk again. Thank you for your loyal, concerned and enthusiastic backing of the aims of the Worthing Theatres Trust, and I would personally urge you to support your local theatres as much as possible.”
The Trust has donated its funds equally to both Worthing Musical Comedy Youth Society to support a local youth drama group and to the Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre talent show fundraising campaign, and is planning on donating the limited edition prints of local artist Debbie Holt’s unique drawings of The Assembly all Hall, Connaught and Pavilion theatres Hall, the Connaught and Pavilion Theatres to Worthing Theatres for sale to raise funds for the buildings.
Jonathan Woodley Tel: 07956 403519
Tel: 07803 269154