Warm Hastings welcome for charitable Trust as it takes over running of White Rock Theatre

People were able to meet the head of the charitable Trust that is taking over the White Rock Theatre at a special event on Thursday.

Those attending included Hastings Council leader Julia Hilton and representatives from local events held in the town such as Bonfire, Jack in the Green and Fat Tuesday.

Portsmouth based Guildhall Trust are now responsible for the theatre and events programme going forward. They take over the lease from outgoing operators Trafalgar Theatres.

They have been given a 25 year lease by White Rock owners Hastings Borough Council, with an option to extend for a further ten years.

Guildhall Trust CEO Andy Grays was quick to point out how keen the Trust is to engage with local people and organisations.

He told the Observer “We want to be a part of the community. We are already looking at creative ways in which we can use the space, particularly the Sussex Hall. In terms of the entertainment, it is about finding the right balance and mix to appeal to audiences. We are also keen to reach out to local schools and engage with them in projects. We are very grateful to local authority to give us this opportunity.”

He added: “It's a great venue for us to work with, and it will be about changing the emphasis within the next few years, moving from a mixed-use theatre to more of a music and concert-hall style, with one-nighters and using our relationships with the real top-notch promoters that we have built up over the years. It has to be a step at a time. There's a real sense of how you take an audience on a journey to explore more, and for the people of Hastings there is already a very natural relationship with the venue.”

Andy stressed that changes would not be immediate: “It takes a number of years to make a difference and the pace of change is important so we're certainly not talking about changes straightaway.”

The Trust pointed out that it does not make profit and any surplus made will be re-invested in charitable causes.

The Guildhall Trust’s vision is to become one of the country’s leading cultural organisations, which places its communities at the centre of everything it does, inspiring, entertaining and transforming lives.

A registered charity, The Guildhall Trust provides a range of inspirational opportunities through its interactive ‘Get Involved’ programmes, events that it produces and manages including the successful Portsmouth Comic Con and is responsible for the operation of Portsmouth Guildhall.

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