Worthing theatres and museum to be run by trust in bid to regenerate town centre

Plans to hand the management of Worthing’s cultural services over to an in-house trust have been approved by senior councillors.

The Connaught theatre
The Connaught theatre

The independent trust, which was the only bidder in the tender process, will take over management of Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, the Connaught, Pavilion Theatre and Assembly Hall.

A report delivered to the joint strategic committee on Tuesday, said a focused trust would allow greater commercial freedom and wider access to funding.

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Worthing theatres and museum could be run by new in-house trust
The Connaught theatre

Dan Humphreys, leader of Worthing Borough Council, pointed to former European cities of culture like Liverpool and Hull using their cultural offers as a basis for regeneration.

“We know the challenges that town centres are facing,” he said. "The old basis for town centres was as marketplaces for retail. We can bemoan the growth of internet and out-of-town shopping all we like, but it is coming, it is changing and we need to support our town centres as best we can.

“This is one of the ways we can do that. This is the next stage in a bright cultural future for Worthing.”

Councillor Kevin Jenkins said a greater cultural offering would incentivise businesses to come to the town, knowing they could encourage employees to relocate.

"We want to create generations going forward who appreciate where they live," he said.

"The cultural offer adds to what Worthing has to offer. We are looking at what Worthing has to offer as a town to residents and to visitors.

"New businesses need to ensure that the community offers reasons for people to relocate. Those are hand in glove - they go with each other and support each other mutually.

"I think we have an opportunity here to do something really special for Worthing. It is about mutually supporting all areas."