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Maddermarket Theatre defends restructure which saw creative directors leave their jobs

08:13 21 March 2016

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck at the Maddermarket Theatre.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck at the Maddermarket Theatre. Photo by Simon Finlay.

The trustees of a city theatre have defended a reorganisation that will see its joint creative directors 
lose their positions, after an open letter raised concerns about the proposals.

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck have been told their two-year contracts at the Maddermarket Theatre will not be renewed, after trustees said it needed two full-time management roles, and there was a need for greater financial expertise on the staff.

The letter, addressed to the theatre’s board of trustees and published anonymously online, said: “You may be surprised to realise the extent of the feeling of deep confusion and sadness over this decision, which we feel has shaken the community to its core.”

It questioned whether the decision was in line with Charity Commission rules.

Susan Seddon, chairman of the board of trustees, said they had taken advice from Charity Backroom, a support service for charities, and their actions were in line with Charity Commission regulations.

The letter said the decision was of such “magnitude and controversy” that it warranted “an exceptional level of deliberation, consultation, and rationalisation”.

Mrs Seddon said the theatre’s board was elected to run the theatre, and took responsibility for taking decisions with the help and advice 
of Charity Backroom, and added: 
“I think it would be inequitable to 
go out to a wider membership to 
say ‘what do you think about so and so’.”

She reiterated that Mr Kirkbride and Mr Beck were welcome to apply for the new positions, and added: “I’m sorry people are not happy, but I think we, as a board, have a responsibility to do what is right.

“I’m confident that time will 
show that what we have done is right.”

The letter concluded: “We regret such a letter was necessary, but this action has been driven by what we believe is a shared goal: that of allowing the theatre to continue its 
positive development trend and realise its fullest potential in the 
future.

“We hope the board will recognise this and respond in full to each concern.

“Failure to do so will unfortunately result in us having to take the matter further.”

Do you have an arts story? Email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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10 comments

  • @Honkytonk Shrill Trolls? Really? I thought this was a place where you can leave your thoughts and comments about issues. By calling us "trolls" aren't you doing exactly the same, only you seem to be a shrill troll on your own. Good luck with that then.

    Report this comment

    Lucy J

    Wednesday, March 23, 2016

  • Which part of 'two-year fixed-term contracts, which end this month' do people on here fail to understand? Read Miss Seddans' statement. I spend my working life on short-term contracts and I know exactly when they finish. Occasionally I've been offered an extended year or so and accepted or not. But it ain't compulsory, is it. Th only real objection that can honestly be made here is IF the two guys were misled in some way or other. Otherwise you're all just being shrill trolls.

    Report this comment

    Honkytonk

    Tuesday, March 22, 2016

  • A restructure. Shorthand for 'cutting staff salaries and getting rid of faces that don't fit'. Much as I love the maddermarket I, and numerous others I hope, will be following this closely and will think carefully about renewing my membership. The recent performances have been outstanding, probably due in no small part to those that are leaving.

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Tuesday, March 22, 2016

  • "Susan Seddon, chairman of the board of trustees, said they had taken advice from Charity Backroom". From the Charity Backroom website: "Disgruntled employees are a big legal risk for most organisations. Incorporate the following simple steps to reduce your exposure to court proceedings. - Listen to every complaint, whether it is formally or informally presented - Follow up on every complaint - Be consistent in how you handle each matteremployee - Keep a written record of all of your actions - Most importantly, ensure you have a clear set of policies and practices." The general consensus is that the Board has ignored *every* piece of advice on this list.

    Report this comment

    NorwichLocal

    Tuesday, March 22, 2016

  • I see the Maddermarket has a history of getting rid of people with no proper explanation: https:www.thestage.co.uknews2012maddermarket-in-row-over-artistic-director-dismissal

    Report this comment

    Ray Brayddon

    Monday, March 21, 2016

  • For years the theatre was a dreary place offering 2o year old fare that people under 70 avoided. The duo have rejuvenated the place, The trustees may be within their legal rights but not moral rights - and risk destroying the brand. My suspicion is that the trustees do not like the new fare and want to go back to the tired old stuff Lets hear from other trustees or has the dragon lady scared them all away from speaking or doing anything other than what she wants . Own up madam it is not the trustees but you who want the pair out- it is blatantly obvious in the way you refer to them publicly.

    Report this comment

    pinewoodlodge

    Monday, March 21, 2016

  • "I’m sorry people are not happy, but I think we, as a board, have a responsibility to do what is right". Well do what is right and reverse your decision Mrs Seddon before you are known as the one who ruined The Maddermarket (you're heading there already, maybe you're sorry about that?). I still can't understand why on earth in one breath she praises Peter and Stash then in the next says we need to re-structure, if I ran my business like this I'd have a strike on my hands and would lose customers. I also haven't seen one single comment from anyone in support of the board of trustees, their stubbornness and silence is deafening. God help the Maddermarket, because with this shower in charge no body else will.

    Report this comment

    Ray Brayddon

    Monday, March 21, 2016

  • As far as I can see the only thing the board of trustees have done is bury their heads in the sand, ride the controversy and hope it goes away. Cowards! Pathetic, weak willed cowards! How dare they play with people's lives and the theatre we all love with such reckless and vicious contempt. Susan Seddon should be ashamed, but she won't be, she strikes me as the sort of person who is more of a dictator than a trustee. The stench she has left by destroying a theatre that has seen such rejuvenation will stay for a long time. She must be very proud of herself.

    Report this comment

    Lucy J

    Monday, March 21, 2016

  • This is yet more skirting around the real issue at hand here, which is that most people have no issue with restructuring. What everyone takes exception to, is the disgusting lack of consideration paid to the people who were losing their jobs. Restructure by all means, but do so in an open and honest manner which involves all parties. No one thinks that members should have been consulted on this and to use that as a response is laughable. People are angry that this was done behind the backs of the people whom it was going to affect the most. If they are being told so publicly that they are welcome to apply for the jobs then they must be considered to be worthy of them? Which begs the question, why not enter into a discussion with them? Or is this simply to appear to be doing the right thing? If anyone needs any further proof of Peter Beck's talent, go and see his production of The Dresser. The set alone is enough to show how talented this man is. To lose him would be a tragedy. But then, this isn't the first time that talented people have been pushed out so perhaps we shouldn't be altogether surprised.

    Report this comment

    Mama Owl

    Monday, March 21, 2016

  • To have a venue that is flourishing - after years of not doing so - and then to dismantle that successful creative team is recklessness if not vandalism. Reality check for trustees please.

    Report this comment

    a fine city

    Monday, March 21, 2016

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