EASTBOURNE’S historic Royal Hippodrome Theatre is set for a new era under the leadership of a new management team.
The Eastbourne Royal Hippodrome Trust has been set up to take over the running of the theatre from next year.
The team of newly-elected trustees aim to introduce a dynamic business plan aimed at securing the long-term future of the venue.
The move signals a positive future for the oldest theatre in the town, managed by Eastbourne Borough Council after the former tenancy ended in 2007.
As part of a staged transfer process, the trust will initially manage the theatre, organising the hires, programme and events for a two-year period, and will be free to fundraise and develop a long-term plan, with support for building and utility costs from the council.
A new business plan will come to the council for approval, with the transfer of the responsibility of the venue ready to come into force from April 2014.
The trustees, all local people, were elected at the Trust’s recent AGM and include new chairman John Bassett, Paul Millross, Gilly Nicol, John Pleydell and Janet Rawson who will serve alongside Council appointees Cllr Nigel Goodyear and Cllr Mike Thompson.
A new season of shows and performances will run from mid-2012 with a mixture of local and touring productions as well as a traditional summer show.
Mr Bassett said, “We are determined to restore the Royal Hippodrome to its former glory as a popular, vibrant and sustainable leading arts venue in Eastbourne.
“The Hippodrome will once again take its place as a key entertainment attraction in the town, bringing a diverse mix of entertainment to local people and the many thousands of visitors who come to Eastbourne every year.”
Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, Cllr David Tutt, said, “The transfer of the running of Hippodrome by the new Trust has been something we have long supported.
“It will give new life to this historic and valued venue, helping to re-establish it as a hub for creativity in Seaside and beyond.
“I am confident the new trustees will do a fantastic job in bringing exciting new acts to Eastbourne and I would encourage all residents to fully support them in their efforts to bring new shows and build new audiences to this much loved theatre.”
On taking over the management of the Hippodrome, Eastbourne Borough Council invested in the venue in 2008 to bring it up to date with current legislation. The building was completely rewired and numerous improvements were made backstage.
It also had a brand new emergency lighting and fire detection system installed. The Council has also now committed to undertaking a full survey and working with the Trust to ensure it is an attractive and welcoming venue for future audiences, acts and potential sponsors.