Bury St Edmunds: New board members at Theatre Royal

BOSSES at a west Suffolk venue have announced the election of two new board members in what they have described as a “challenging but thrilling time.”

The Board of Trustees of Bury St Edmunds Theatre Management Limited, the charity that manages the Theatre Royal, elected Stephen Bourne and Derek Blake at a meeting on Monday night.

The move comes weeks after the resignation of chair, Brian Stewart, and the decision to launch a public consultation on the future of the theatre and the possibility of a management merger with The Apex.

Mr Bourne, the president of Cambridge University Press and chair of regional orchestral company Britten Sinfonia, takes office immediately as chairman.

Mr Blake, who returns to the Theatre Royal after retiring from the Board in 2011 after eight years as a trustee and two as chairman, will assume a role as vice chairman.

A spokesman said the pair will support the Theatre Royal’s Chief Executive Simon Daykin and his team in developing the Theatre’s future business model, “whilst allowing the organisation to develop its key artistic, learning and commercial strands.”

Mr Daykin said: “I am delighted to welcome Stephen, and re-welcome Derek, during this challenging but thrilling time of building on our strengths to keep the Theatre not only alive and kicking, but fresh, exciting and growing.

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“I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with them in leading the organisation towards an even brighter future, where we can really get to grips with how we relate to our several communities and stakeholders as a visionary theatre organisation, with strength and resolve at board level.”

He added: “I know that both Stephen and Derek are completely open minded and that all the options that have been discussed remain on the table.”

Mr Blake said: “Like many people across west Suffolk I hold the Theatre Royal in great affection, and am very happy to help it moving forward.

“The Theatre has a great many supporters and I know they will be very keen to continue that support as we develop our future plans.”

Mr Bourne added: “These are challenging times for the arts, but there is a growing understanding of the important role played by the creative arts in their local communities.

“The board’s task is to define a sustainable business plan that will meet the hopes and aspirations of the Theatre Royal, and the communities it serves. My colleagues and I are ready to take on that challenge.”

Last night, the Theatre Support Group, welcomed the news of the appointments.

Jim Keohane, a member of the group said: “The two appointments bring to the board some talented and experienced people, who will clearly strengthen its expertise and ensure the theatre’s future direction is given the extremely careful consideration it requires.

“We know that the many supporters of the theatre who have voiced their opinions on the petition on our website, will be reassured that their voices have been heard and that the policy of open mindedness, suggested by the new board, is heartening news.

“We urge the board to keep all stakeholders, patrons and members of the public informed regarding the progress of due diligence to ensure that a strong business model is developed which will secure the future of this much loved theatre.”

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