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White Rock Theatre on Hastings seafront

A new deal for the White Rock Theatre

It was recently announced that Hastings Borough Council and HQ Theatres and Hospitality Ltd have agreed to a five year extension to their existing contract to manage the White Rock Theatre. The new deal, which will run from February 2019 to February 2024, has also revealed a number of significant changes.

The White Rock Theatre has served as the central hub for theatre and entertainment in Hastings since it first opened in 1927. This new deal will ensure the continuation of the partnership between HQ Theatres and Hastings Borough Council.

“We are pleased to be able to confirm the extension to our existing contract and to continue our association with the White Rock Theatre for a further five years”, announced Julian Russell, CEO of HQ Theatres.

“The White Rock Theatre is a vital cultural asset to the local community, so we’re delighted about this positive outcome which will meet the needs of all key stakeholders including Hastings Borough Council, our loyal audience and the many local organisations and community groups who regularly use the facilities at the theatre”, Russell further remarked.

The contract extension has also revealed a number of changes to be made within the coming year. Among these, the theatre will run on a much reduced management fee from Hastings Borough Council. HQ Theatres are also endeavouring to develop new kinds of programming, including touring musicals, classical and modern music, while the White Rock’s year-round youth theatre and summer musical project is set to be extended to include groups for younger children and adults.

There will also be a number of improvements to the site’s Sussex Studio space, in order to offer better facilities for small-scale theatre and music. It will continue to be available, free of charge, for meetings, rehearsals and community events.

Cllr. Kim Forward, Hastings Borough Council’s lead councillor for regeneration and culture, commented on the agreement, stating: “I am very pleased to see the commitment to greater community involvement by HQ and look forward to a programme which will have increased appeal for both residents and visitors and should attract audiences from further afield.

“HBC’s regeneration plan for the Bohemia area gives us a great opportunity to look at the need for both improved – and an increased number of – performance spaces to reflect the importance we place on culture and the arts in our town.”

In regards to the various changes, Julian Russell also noted: “HQ Theatres and Hospitality is committed to developing the programme of events on offer and we are excited to be extending our Creative Learning, education and community engagement programmes, ensuring widespread participation amongst Hastings residents and young people.

‘We look forward to developing these plans in conjunction with Hastings Borough Council and local organisations,” Russell affirmed.

Posted 08:09 Friday, Aug 24, 2018 In: Arts News

1 Comment


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  1. Bea

    White Rock Theatre is the largest of the performance venues in town, but that is the most that can be said for it. St Mary in the Castle, Opus Theatre, Stables Theatre, Kino, Stade Hall, St Clement’s, various other churches and lots of community venues are hosting a huge range of performances (just read HOT for the lowdown), many of them much more interesting and innovative than HQ Theatres’.
    HQ have invested in better programming this year, with a view to retaining their large subsidy from HBC. It appears that they want to be the beneficiaries of any new building on the site – don’t expect this to be put out to tender. The Arts Council could be key to this, and they will hopefully be looking at the full range of venues in Hastings (not to mention the de la Warr down the road) before deciding whether to back what could become a white elephant demanding heavy subsidies.
    HBC really need to look at their subsidy policy for the arts. There is virtually nothing for anybody else. HQ have had it all.

    Comment by Bea — Tuesday, Aug 28, 2018 @ 09:18

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