Excitement as new era beds in at Hastings’ White Rock Theatre

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Staff at Hastings’ White Rock Theatre are enjoying a time of genuine excitement as they prepare for a fabulous new chapter in the venue’s history.

Earlier this year the Guildhall Trust took over as the venue’s new operator, ending a period of uncertainly which could have seen the theatre shut down. Instead, Nadine Passley and her team are now looking forward to all the opportunities now opening up.

With the take-over, Nadine who has been at the venue for five years and was previously general manager, became venue director: “It really has been very exciting. Change is difficult for anybody with new systems and new management but the Guildhall Trust have been so incredibly supportive. We have moved from a corporate company to a charitable trust and that makes such a difference. It means we have more opportunity to apply for funding and we can become more community focused. We can look to heritage funds and we can utilise the history of the building and become much more of a hub.

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“We knew that the contract was coming to an end for a long time but the transition to the Guildhall Trust was a last-minute decision. They really saved us at the last moment. There was a time of uncertainty and it could have been the end. It could have led to the building shutting down. What we really needed was someone to come in and take us under their wing and it's wonderful that the Guildhall Trust did that. They came and they saw so much opportunity for growth here and so much potential in the venue. Their venue in Portsmouth is a historical venue and so they're used to that and they know how to work with us.

Nadine Passley (contributed pic)Nadine Passley (contributed pic)
Nadine Passley (contributed pic)

“Our building is nearly 100 years old and you've got all the things that you would expect with a building that is 96 years old, things that happen over time but we're now planning to address the maintenance issues that definitely need attention in some key areas, and we're hoping to be able to apply for funding.

“What is really lovely is that the Guildhall Trust are allowing us to use the building in the way it was built for. It was built as a music hall and we really want to focus on the music. We've got some great programmers we're working with and we've got some really exciting things coming up. Programming is something you have to plan ahead, but I think you'll start to really see the changes coming up in 2025 but in the meantime we've got some really great stuff coming and we’re working with a pantomime company this year that we have not worked with before. I do think people will start to see a different approach. We are just trying to widen our appeal and our support and we really want to be the place in the south-east that people come to for panto. It's a lovely place to have panto right on the seafront. I'm really excited at the opportunities

“But the venue was built as a music hall and the accoustic is lovely. We have got a real resonance with live music here, and bands love us. We want to have that mix of live music and comedy. We are also renovating our studio space. We want to have that as another community space to support fringe music and fringe events and just to be a real multi-purpose space. We will be renovating in April and we're hoping to have programming coming in as soon as late May with some exciting projects for the summer.”

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